Head Coach Ceri Jones has backed his Dragons to respond to the disappointment of late defeat to the Cheetahs in the right fashion as all eyes now turn to Judgement Day and the final game of the campaign.
Dragons were leading Cheetahs 13-10 in Bloemfontein with less than a quarter of the Guinness PRO14 game play at the Toyota Stadium.
A late flurry from the hosts – that included three tries in the final six minutes – saw them pull clear and wrap up a bonus point win.
However, Jones believes there are still positives to take from the tour and now wants his squad to go all out in the final clash of the season with Scarlets at the Principality Stadium at the end of the month.
“We are all disappointed not to get that win. But this is a resilient group and we will go home and look to give it everything now on the final day of the season to finish on a positive note,” he said.
“We take plenty away from the South African tour. We were very much in both games, could have got that away win, and so we must take positives back and into Judgement Day.
“I thought we were very competitive (in Bloemfontein) until the last 15 minutes when they pulled away,” he added.
“Our discipline let us down at times in the first half, but we were very good value to come back and get back ahead. We were in a position to get more from the game but failed to take it.”
Jones admitted that Dragons had needed to take every opportunity against the Cheetahs and felt the final score line was harsh on his team as they chased late consolation.
“I was pleased with the position we put ourselves in to get something from the game,” he said. “But a lost a lineout and a crucial turnover in midfield saw them take advantage and pull clear. We need to execute better in those pivotal moments.
“Once they scored the third try we chased the game trying to get something out of it and so those late tries can happen.
“You throw caution to the wind and the late intercept certainly made the score worse than it was. We were better than the final score line.”
Jones also believes his team will have learnt from playing at altitude – a first for many in the squad.
“Playing at altitude is new experience for many of these players and they will be better for that next time,” he said.
“There are frustrations looking back at the game. In the first half we didn’t fire a bullet, so to speak, we got the wrong side of the referee and our breakdown work wasn’t good enough.
“We showed plenty of endeavour and energy to come back into the game just after half-time, but we have fallen away late on.”
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We were very good value to come back and get back ahead... We were in a position to get more from the game but failed to take it...