Wing Dafydd Howells grabbed a brace of tries as Dragons XV were edged out 40-31 in a high-scoring and entertaining 11-try Celtic Cup clash with Cardiff Blues A at Cardiff Arms Park.
A decisive first half double from Howells and a score from prop Ryan Bevington put the visitors just four points behind at the break of a lively Round 3 fixture.
Scrum half Tavis Knoyle and scrum half Rhodri Williams also went over the whitewash in the second half of a breathless encounter that ebbed and flowed throughout.
Dragons also saw welcome playing returns for the likes of Harri Keddie, Ollie Griffiths and Taine Basham while summer recruit Sam Davies was a late replacement.
However, it was the home side who eventually showed a more clinical edge to wrap up maximum points and a first win in the cup competition.
Dragons came into the game on the back of an impressive bonus point home win over Munster and made ten changes to the line-up for the away fixture in the Welsh capital.
The all-action Keddie was one of those introduced and it took him less than a minute to leave his mark as he powerfully bounced off one tackler as he crunched the hard yards over halfway.
The back row was hungry for work after his lay-off and linked up with Rhys Lawrence to punch another hole before the opening try as Huw Taylor found Bevington on his shoulder to dart over.
The home side hit back immediately with slick offloading freeing up space for back row James Botham to release Dan Fish over, with Lewis Jones converting.
The injured Fish was replaced by former Dragon Jason Tovey soon afterwards and the fly half nudged over a superb touchline conversion after home centre Harri Millard brushed off two tackles to score out wide.
Flanker Ollie Griffiths replaced Keddie at the midpoint of the first half and the back row dynamo had an instant impact.
Griffiths cut a wonderful running line to race through a gap and was alert enough to pop the ball back to fly half Botica who showed great vision to chip the ball into the path of Howells on the wing for the score.
Four minutes later Howells showed his blistering pace as he intercepted a wide pass in his own 22 and beat the cover defence to touch down in the corner.
Botica saw a penalty slip wide before Blues struck back on the stroke of half-time as a long floated pass from Garyn Smith released Jason Harries and, after he was halted just short by Owen Jenkins, quick ball allowed Ben Murphy to bulldoze in.
Home scrum half Lewis Jones darted down the short-side to extend the home advantage just after the break.
The response from Dragons came in decisive fashion as Griffiths and Taine Basham crashed up close before Knoyle darted over.
But, within a minute, opposite number Lewis Jones took a quick tap and go and sprinted over unopposed.
Summer recruit Sam Davies entered the fray on the hour but he could do little to stop home replacement Rory Thornton being sent over in the corner after Will Boyde broke down the touchline.
However, Davies showed all his attacking ability in the final minutes with a moment of sheer class as he glided past two tacklers and fired a pass into the hands of try scorer Rhodri Williams before slotting a quick drop goal conversion.
04m Bevington t Botica c 0-7
06m Fish t Jones c 7-7
16m Millard t Tovey c 14-7
24m Howells t 14-12
28m Howells t 14-17
40m Murphy t Tovey c 21-17
46m Jones t Tovey c 28-17
49m Knoyle t Botica c 28-24
50m Jones t 33-24
67m Thornton t Tovey c 40-24
77m R. Williams t Davies c 40-31
Cardiff Blues A: Ioan Davies; Jason Harries, Harri Millard, Garyn Smith, Aled Summerhill; Dan Fish (Tovey 12), Lewis Jones; Corey Domachowski, Liam Belcher, Will Davies King, Ben Murphy, Macauley Cook, Shane Lewis-Hughes, James Botham, Alun Lawrence (c)
Replacements: Ethan Lewis, Brad Thyer, Scott Andrews, Rory Thornton, Will Boyde, Jamie Hill, Jason Tovey, Ben Thomas, Seb Davies, Teddy Williams
Dragons XV: Owen Jenkins, Dafydd Howells (Penny 40), Adam Warren, Jack Dixon (Owen 75), Rio Dyer (J. Williams 60), Jacob Botica (Davies 60), Tavis Knoyle (R. Williams 50); Ryan Bevington (Reynolds 50), Rhys Lawrence (Shipp 75), Chris Coleman (Fairbrother 40), Joe Davies, Max Williams (Screech 50), Huw Taylor, Taine Basham, Harri Keddie (Griffiths 22)
Replacements: Josh Reynolds, Ellie Shipp, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, Ollie Griffiths, Rhodri Williams, Sam Davies, Jordan Williams, Aneurin Owen, Carwyn Penny