Boss Dean Ryan admitted he had a ‘mixed bag’ of emotions after watching his Dragons storm back to give champions a scare at Rodney Parade.
The region fought back from 35-15 down after 63 minutes to move within a score thanks to late tries by replacements Luke Baldwin and Josh Lewis.
Young stars Aneurin Owen – on his first Guinness PRO14 start – Ben Fry and Ben Cater also shone brightly.
But after leading 15-14 at the break, Ryan conceded he had mixed emotion come full time.
“It was a bit of a mixed bag - parts of me are so proud,” said Ryan.
“Aneurin Owen looked the real deal, Ben Fry was outstanding and Ben Carter is only 20 – I watched them really compete in that game.
“But then there is the frustration that it was a game we could have been a lot closer in but for that 10 or 15 minutes after half-time with the yellow cards.
“In those moments we still don’t believe that if we get through them we can come out the other end.
“It’s educating this group that if they sit in those games against these sorts of sides then something can come.
“It’s a mixed bag because we are close enough to be frustrated.”
Ryan also backed the decision to kick the ball dead and take a losing bonus point in the final minute.
“I think it was the right decision,” said the Director of Dragon Rugby.
“I don’t think that we were going 80 metres and we are at a stage where a point against Leinster is quite a smart move at the moment, and we’ve got to go and get some points next week [against Zebre].
“It was absolutely the right decision otherwise we are just going to cut our own throats, but we could have got to that point earlier in the game and then something might have been on, so that’s for us to work on.”
Aneurin Owen looked the real deal, Ben Fry was outstanding and Ben Carter is only 20 – I watched them really compete in that game...