KINGSLEY Jones expressed his pride at the effort of his Newport Gwent Dragons players after they battled for a point against the Scarlets at Principality Stadium.
The Dragons were huge underdogs for the Judgement Day encounter with the Guinness PRO12 title hopefuls but led 6-3 at half-time.
The Scarlets came back to take the spoils but the 'hosts' earned a consolation thanks to a last-gasp try by wing Adam Hughes that made it 21-16.
After a streak that had seen them claim just one point from a possible last 30, Jones hopes their spirit against a side that climbed to third in the table bodes well for the final games of the season against Edinburgh and Cardiff Blues.
“I am proud of the players because they followed the game plan after our preparation,” said head coach Jones.
“Our lineout game was good and we defended well against a very good, well-coached, well-drilled Scarlets team with a lot of attacking threats in Steff Evans, Liam Williams, Johnny McNicholl, Scott Williams, Jonathan Davies…
“I thought that we dealt with them well but there was a period that just broke our spirit a little bit with the yellow card (for Adam Hughes with the score at 6-6 approaching the hour) and a couple of decisions going against us.
“We failed to deal with that but the way that we came back at the end is the most promising thing. We kept going and scored an excellent try that we deserved.”
The Dragons suffered a blow in the fifth minute when tighthead Lloyd Fairbrother was forced off with a knee injury.
The Scarlets, who fielded four Wales internationals in their tight five in Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Samson Lee and Jake Ball, gradually put the squeeze on at the set piece.
“I think that the scrum was the difference,” admitted Jones. “Losing Lloyd early in the game was a disappointment and it was always going to be a challenge against a very good Scarlets scrum and for Brok to deal with that for the 80 minutes.”