Steff Hughes acknowledged Dragons need to find consistency in performance and start producing 80-minute displays after defeat to Emirates Lions in Europe.
The Men of Gwent were disappointing in the first half at Ystrad Mynach – with the EPCR Challenge Cup game moved from a frozen Rodney Parade – as they slipped 27-5 behind.
By contrast, Dai Flanagan’s men turned it on in the second period with 20 unanswered points as they came up just short after a thrilling comeback.
Captain Hughes had mixed emotions after the game as Dragons secured knockout rugby but were left wondering what might have been.
“It was important to qualify, that was the main objective, but we would have wanted to win and play at home,” he admitted.
“The first half we weren’t physical enough, didn’t win collisions, and it was hard to get into the game from an attacking perspective.
“Our discipline was poor as well and we gave Lions easy points.
“Contrastingly, second half I thought we were excellent, the way we played, the way we attacked.
“We caused them a lot of problems, the collisions we won, and we were on the right side of the penalty count.
“The impact the bench made was excellent and we could and should have won it. It’s an opportunity gone again.
“We’re growing as a group when you look at how well we played in that second half,” he added.
“The biggest growth for us, though, is if we can get consistency in our performance throughout the 80 minutes.
“We’ve made big strides, had some great results and performances.
“The next layer of growth is to be able to execute and put in an 80-minute performance against a great team and get a good result.
“A lot of that comes down to mindset and how we grow that, the confidence and ability for us to play against the best teams and win.”
Hughes also conceded the game had been similar to the league defeat to DHL Stormers earlier this season when Dragons battled back to secure points.
“We spoke at half time that we were in a similar position in South Africa when we played the Stormers,” he said.
“They scored a lot of points in the first half, then we came back and scored tries in the second. We knew we could do it, we’ve done it before.
“The confidence we had going into the second half to put things right was there. If we had kept the first half closer, we would have won the game comfortably. It is frustrating.”
Dragons are back on home soil this Saturday (January 28) when they tackle Glasgow Warriors in the BKT United Rugby Championship (kick-off 3pm). Click HERE to buy online or call 01633 670690 today.
The next layer of growth is to be able to execute and put in an 80-minute performance against a great team and get a good result...