Dragons suffered a narrow 35-28 defeat in a thrilling opening pre-season fixture against Leicester Tigers at the Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium.
A strong Tigers saw them score five tries thanks to fullback Freddie Steward’s brace, hooker Nic Dolly, scrum half Jack Van Poortvliet and winger Nemani Nadolo, with fly half Freddie Burns converting four of the scores and Dan Lancaster adding the final conversion.
Following a poor first half Dragons came out fighting in the second and scored four tries of their own with hooker Richard Hibbard, fly half Sam Davies who - converted all four scores, scrum half Lewis Jones and winger Jordan Olowofela all crossing the whitewash.
Despite the tough defeat there were plenty of positives for Dragons boss Dean Ryan to take heading into their second pre-season fixture against Wasps next week.
It was a breathless start in Leicester, going end to end with both sides showing their intent to play attacking rugby.
It was Dragons who created the first opportunity of the game despite the lack of possession, as fullback Jordan Williams showed his fancy footwork and almost sent Sam Davies under the sticks before he got brought down just short.
The hosts forced the turnover and scored themselves moments later following a couple of line breaks by scrum half Van Poortvliet before going wide for fullback Steward to crash over in the corner.
The visitors created more opportunities towards the end of the half but couldn’t capitalise with the Tigers continuing to find ways of forcing a turnover.
Tigers doubled their lead through hooker Dolly who crashed over from the back of a strong driving maul.
The hosts scored their third on the half hour mark through lively scrum half Van Poortvielt from the back of a line out before Burns converted to make the score 21-0 with half time approaching.
Dragons pushed to narrow the deficit before half time and built some pressure on the Tigers try-line with a dominant driving maul, but the home side managed to see it out to half time.
It didn’t take long in the second half for the Dragons to begin their fightback, a powerful carry from Hibbard with Joe Davies as support saw him crash over from close range.
Minutes later captain of the day Sam Davies read a pass beautifully to intercept and race under the sticks untouched before converting his own score to narrow the deficit to seven points.
Tigers fullback Steward scored his second of the game to regain a two score advantage, finishing a well worked backs move to score.
But a quick-fire double from the Dragons threatened to turn the game upside down.
Replacement scrum half Lewis Jones scoring his first try for his new club and after some brilliant offloading in the build-up, James Benjamin put Jones under the posts.
Moments later Jordan Olowofela scored against his parent club. Taine Basham showed his pace and power to make a brilliant break before Jones put Olowofela over the whitewash, and after Davies converted the scores were tied at 28-28 with just over ten minutes to go.
But it was the home side who manged to take the victory after moving the ball wide well to wing Nadolo to finish in the corner.
The Men of Gwent pushed for the draw but Tigers defence held out to claim victory in a thrilling encounter in Leicester.
Dragons: Jordan Williams, Owen Jenkins, Jared Rosser, Jamie Roberts, Jordan Olowofela, Sam Davies (c), Dan Babos, Josh Reynolds, Richard Hibbard, Chris Coleman, Joe Davies, Joe Maksymiw, Ben Fry, Taine Basham, Ollie Griffiths.
Replacements: James Benjamin, Aaron Jarvis, Mesake Doge, Ben Carter, Lennon Greggains, Lewis Jones, Evan Lloyd, Jack Dixon, Luke Yendle, Huw Taylor, Ioan Davies, Josh Lewis, Aneurin Owen.
Leicester Tigers: Freddie Steward, Kobus van Wyk, Guy Porter, Dan Kelly, Hosea Saumaki, Freddie Burns, Jack van Poortvliet, James Whitcombe, Nic Dolly, Joe Heyes, Ollie Chessum, Cameron Henderson, Hanro Liebenberg (c), Tommy Reffell, Gareth Evans
Replacements: Francois van Wyk, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Eli Snyman, George Martin; Jonny Law, Dan Lancaster, Juan Pablo Socino, Jacob Cusick, Harry Potter, Nemani Nadolo, Kini Murimurivalu