THE ONE-SIDED Judgement Day game materialised, it was just that it took place in the afternoon rather than early evening.

The walk to Principality Stadium was filled with dread about what was to come; a Newport Gwent Dragons side in miserable form against a Scarlets team packed with internationals and on the charge up the Guinness PRO12 towards a play-off berth.

Everything pointed to a crushing 'away' win. Instead we got a pretty even contest in which the Dragons showed guts galore before running out of steam in the final quarter when a yellow card would prove to be their undoing.

All this after the then third-placed Ospreys, always Wales' standard bearers, had been surprisingly hammered by Cardiff Blues in a game that, though entertaining, was not much of a contest with the men from the capital crossing for a fifth try to lead 35-3 after 46 minutes.

The Judgement Day trippers may have been grumbling about the quality of the second fixture – it was evident that plenty chose to head home (or to the pub?) after game one while the stands thinned after half-time – but that won't bother Kingsley Jones and his players.

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They have still not won in five regional double-headers at the stadium but their tenacity was admirable and what was a turgid first half to some was a delight to plenty of us.

While some would have liked the Dragons to have been like a mouse thrown into a snake's vivarium, they avoided being feasted on by a side featuring a glut of Test talent that was clearly chasing a bonus-point win to strengthen their play-off challenge.

The Dragons needed to respond on a big stage after a poor display at Zebre and they did. They have shipped tries with alarming ease of late but it took the Scarlets, who boasted nine regular internationals in their XV, an hour to cross.

Sure, it's now 10 defeats on the spin but Jones' side were good value for the consolation bonus point that was earned by Adam Hughes' last-gasp try.

What they must now do is back it up by showing the same tenacity against Edinburgh at Myreside a week on Friday and versus Cardiff Blues in Caerphilly on final day.

Do that and they could finish ninth, slip back to the standards of much of 2017 and they could humiliatingly prop up the pile.

But the signs from the capital were promising with flanker Ollie Griffiths putting in a stellar, Test-like performance ably supported by Nic Cudd and Lewis Evans alongside him in the back row while Charlie Davies and Angus O'Brien were shrewd at half-back and Tyler Morgan showed more of the promise that excites us from outside centre.

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The bookies had given the Dragons a 17-point head start in the handicap yet they headed into half-time with a 6-3 advantage.

They suffered an early blow when tighthead Lloyd Fairbrother was carted off after just five minutes holding his left knee but responded to go in front through a brace of penalties by O'Brien.

The fly-half, on his 50th regional outing, was denied by an excellent Liam Williams tackle after a chip and chase and the Scarlets got on the scoreboard through Dan Jones after Rhys Buckley felled Wales lock Jake Ball with a chop tackle without arms.

The Dragons went straight back on the offensive and had a marvellous opportunity when O'Brien's neat grubber forced full-back Johnny McNicholl into touch five metres short.

The first drive was stopped illegally and captain Evans pointed back to the corner only for the Scarlets to defend well and force a knock-on, hooker Buckley hindered by his jersey being pulled up over his head.

Nonetheless, the Dragons were going nicely and some good defensive work – with that man Cudd over the ball again five metres out – ensured they headed to their changing room with a well-deserved 6-3 advantage.

It wasn't just the pessimism that comes with years of watching the Dragons that made it feel like a matter of time until the Scarlets edged in front after the resumption. The western side were on top from the off with their scrum increasingly dominant.

Cudd held up Scotland back rower John Barclay close to the line with a super 'choke tackle' to earn a turnover but the Scarlets were level on 50 minutes through Jones after a breakdown offence following a huge tackle by Griffiths on Wales loosehead Rob Evans.

The key moment came approaching the hour when an excellent burst by Lions shoo-in Jonathan Davies released former Dragons favourite Jonathan Evans.

The scrum-half, who memorably sniped over against the Scarlets at Principality Stadium in 2013, was superbly tackled by Adam Hughes but the wing was yellow-carded for killing the ball.

The Scarlets kept the pressure on and Davies cantered over down Hughes' flank after a quick tap with Liam Williams converting via the post.

O'Brien and Williams traded penalties before the latter secured the spoils with a well-taken try with nine minutes left, showing too much pace on an arcing run.

It looked like the Dragons would have nothing to show for their efforts but they kept battling until the bitter end to earn a consolation.

Hughes produced a fine tackle to deny DTH van der Merwe with three minutes left and then turned finisher himself after a slick counter-attack featuring O'Brien (twice) and Tyler Morgan.

The rugby watchers among the crowd would have acknowledged the Dragons' consolation was deserved as they headed for the exits.

Dragons: C Meyer (D Jones 63, J Dixon 69), A Hughes, T Morgan, S Beard, A Warren (T Prydie 47), A O'Brien, C Davies, S Hobbs (P Price 65), R Buckley (R Thomas 65), L Fairbrother (B Harris 5), M Screech (A Sweet 56), C Hill, O Griffiths, N Cudd, L Evans (captain, H Keddie 67).

Scorers: try – A Hughes; conversion – A O'Brien; penalties – A O'Brien (3) Scarlets: J McNicholl (DTH van der Merwe 71), L Williams, J Davies, S Williams, S Evans, D Jones (H Parkes 52), G Davies (J Evans 52), R Evans (W Jones ), K Owens (captain, E Phillips ), S Lee ( W Kruger ), J Ball, T Price, T Beirne, J Davies (J Macleod 17), J Barclay.

Scorers: tries – J Davies, L Williams; conversion – L Williams; penalties – D Jones (2), L Williams

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

Attendance (whole day): 60,642