Lyn Jones: Dragons will improve 'fragile' scrum and maul
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons' preparations for Ulster begin in earnest this week with focus on addressing the "glaring" weakness of their tight play.
The Rodney Parade region enjoyed a morale-boosting 22-20 win against Bath last Friday in their only pre-season friendly.
Full-back Dan Evans scored the Dragons' only try before fly-halves Kris Burton and Jason Tovey kicked them to victory in the last quarter.
There were plenty of encouraging aspects from the success against the Aviva Premiership outfit, which was achieved without Lions star Toby Faletau and captain Andrew Coombs, but some familiar shortcomings.
The Dragons were under the pump at the scrum and struggled to get to grips with Bath's driving lineout.
The visitors' power game led to their head coach Toby Booth lamenting "one of the most one-sided losses I've ever had".
That was overstating it but it is true that the Dragons needed a determined defensive display in the face of a steady stream of possession to take the spoils.
Director of Lyn Jones said they will work on the nuts and bolts of the set piece over the coming week but that the prime objective was achieved against Bath – seeing all his charges in action.
"As a new coach coming in I need to form an opinion on everyone," he said. "It was important to see them play.
"We've worked on lots with each other over the last couple of months, Bath was an opportunity to do it live.
"We are quite pleased with the exercise.
"It was glaring that the maul and the scrum areas were a little fragile but that doesn't concern me at the moment. That will take a session or two to put right."
The Dragons don't play again until the September 6 RaboDirect Pro12 clash with Ulster, who take on English champions Leicester at Welford Road on Saturday.
Jones repeated his fear of being undercooked for the opener – "we should be playing at least two friendlies but Perpignan cried off, probably scared" – and will start to put combinations together ahead of the game against last season's Pro12 runners-up.
"I will select for Ulster as soon as possible because this team needs time to grow and to gel," he said.
"We have to understand what our first XV is and once we've got that the rest of the squad needs to challenge.
"There are lots of areas to improve on but the biggest thing you can have in the changing room is people who work hard and are honest.
"If we can harness some of that energy (from the defensive attitude against Bath) and put a little bit of tact and guile in then we will be an interesting force."
The Dragons picked up no fresh injuries against Bath.
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