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Ryan pleased as Dragons land in quarters

17/01/2020

Boss Dean Ryan was delighted for his Dragons as they booked a place in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup.

On a night of high drama, Ryan’s men battled to a 47-5 win over Russian side Enisei-STM at Rodney Parade.

And the result at Sixways also fell kindly to secure the runners-up place in Pool 1 and with it knockout rugby in April.

“I’m just really pleased for the group. It has been a really interesting experience and none more so than today,” he said.

“To try and get qualification through some challenging games and today was as big as any of them.

“The group should enjoy being talked about, qualifying and this evening.

“I’ve never really experienced a first 40 minutes like that,” he added. “There was no momentum in the first half at all.

“We tried to do some simple things to take the game and make sure we got the bonus point and got out of here.”

Dragons knew only a bonus point win would be good enough - and the result at Sixways could still ruin the night for them.

A Worcester bonus point win and two losing bonus points for Castres would see Dragons eliminated.

However, a late surge from the Top14 champions sent them clear and avoided a cruel exit for Dragons.

“We only learnt about that scenario this week, I think someone had been on the calculator and worked out what if,” smiled Ryan.

“We couldn’t control that. All we could control was five points and I didn’t hear the Castres score until two or three minutes form the end, it wasn’t relevant until then.

“I did realise at that stage that it was still very poised and it could have come back and bitten us.

“We are just pleased for this group and look forward to hopefully travelling a bit more than 20 miles down the road in the quarter-finals.”

As for any potential quarter-final opponents, Ryan admitted he was open to any challenge.

“I don’t think we have thought about it too much,” he said.

“We want to learn from lots of experiences and I’m sure the quarter-finals will be one of the highlights this year.

“From a playing perspective we are not worried who we get. There are some quality sides left, but from an experience point of view we wouldn’t mind a trip.”

Dragons lost Tyler Morgan, Rio Dyer and Jared Rosser to injury on home soil and Ryan admitted the break from rugby was now needed for his squad.

“It is getting ludicrous in the back three,” he admitted.

“When you have such a thin squad it is challenge and we end up playing lots of young men.

“They look great but it is very early in their career to play at this level. It is high risk of injury and that is playing out at the moment.”

We want to learn from lots of experiences and I’m sure the quarter-finals will be one of the highlights this year...
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