All smiles for Kingsley with Dragons on the up
LAST season Newport Gwent Dragons were a laughing stock, now they are on the up and playing with smiles on their faces.
The region made it two engrossing RaboDirect Pro12 wins from two at Rodney Parade when they turned over the Scarlets 23-16 last Friday.
Just like against Ulster on opening weekend, it was a wholehearted performance that merited the deafening support from the stands as they successfully defended their lead at the death.
It's still early days but the Dragons have got their pride back after a miserable 2012/13 that saw them finish one from bottom of the league and fail to make an impact in either the LV Cup or Amlin Challenge Cup.
Assistant coach Kingsley Jones believes that is down to enjoyment, positivity and confidence in their own ability.
"The Scarlets team not only had a lot of international experience in it but a lot of RaboDirect Pro12 experience," said the former Wales flanker. "Then look at the young fellas in that Dragons side.
"Young (18-year-old wing) Hallam Amos was laughing in the changing room five minutes before the game: I used to play with players that would go mad if someone smiled two HOURS before the game!
"That just shows that youth can often work in your favour – there are no skeletons in the closet and they have just gone out there and performed."
The Dragons have put a smattering of experience around the likes of Amos, Jack Dixon, Matthew Screech, Ross Wardle and Franciso Chaparro.
That is paying dividends with the belief in the camp soaring ahead of Saturday's clash against Munster in Cork.
This weekend's fixture is the toughest assignment of the campaign yet but Jones says the players will head to Musgrave Park confident they can mix it with the best of them.
"The belief of the players showed against the Scarlets and that win is an amazing step forward psychologically," he said.
"You always need to respect your opposition but you also need to believe that you can win. The boys did that and got the result.
"The Scarlets are a really good side and our boys know all about their quality and experience but they stood up to them and stuck it out for the 84 minutes."
Munster will take to the field with the criticism of coach Rob Penney ringing in their ears.
The Irish province were bidding to become the first side to start a season with three successive bonus point wins but came a cropper 29-19 at Treviso.
Munster had four men sin-binned, three in the final 30 minutes, as they let a 10-point lead slip from their grasp.
"We've just taken a massive step backwards," admitted Penny afterwards. "You can't afford to lose four players, as we did over the course of 80 minutes, and hope to get away with it."