Boss Dean Ryan insisted his Dragons had learnt some vital lessons as they were edged out 17-16 by Cardiff Blues in an eventful Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup derby.
Wales international Owen Lane and Dragons hooker Rhys Lawrence were both shown red cards in the clash in the capital that was in the balance until the final moments.
Lawrence had earlier scored Dragons' only try and Sam Davies kicked 11 points.
But it was the hosts who won a game that was influenced by the new trials laws in the Rainbow Cup.
Lane was dismissed after 46 minutes but Blues were able to replace him with another player for the final 14 minutes and that proved pivotal with a late try.
“We had numbers on them and should have taken more opportunities,” said Ryan.
“It was a very different challenge today. In the first half we were getting tripped up at the breakdown and in the set piece.
“We talked at half-time that there are times when you go conservative when you are struggling at the breakdown and you put more men in.
“We wanted to play faster and quicker and see what impact it had. For the half hour after the break we created lots and they didn’t know how to cope with us.
“I was happy for half an hour at the pace we played the game and how that disrupted them. I don’t think they had an answer other than hemorrhaging penalties.
“On another day there could have been a lot more offences and we have got to look back and ask why we didn’t score more during that period. That is the most disappointing factor.”
Despite the defeat, Ryan believes his team must take the positives and will be better for the experience as they again underlined the progress made this campaign.
He said: “The game with Scarlets was quite an open one with another side who wanted to play fast so that made the breakdown a lot easier.
“Today we met a side in Cardiff who are strong at that area so we had to work out what to do.
“There have been times when people think let’s get more people to the ruck and look after the ball. Today was a great experience in going faster.
“That’s a great experience for us, rather than just playing normal PRO14 games and being a little bit disappointed that we didn’t score.
“There are elements of that game that we take a huge amount from and we can’t just play the same game every week.
“We can have a way about what we are thing to do, but we have to react and learn how we get it in the game against different opponents and different weather conditions.
“Today we faced a side that weren’t going to allow us to play as loose as last time so we had to find a different way.
“We gain a lot from that – we are just disappointed that we didn’t put the result away.’
We wanted to play faster and quicker and see what impact it had. For the half hour after the break we created lots and they didn’t know how to cope with us.