DRAGONS boss Bernard Jackman says his fringe players have earned his trust to stay in the XV thanks to their exploits in the thriller against Ulster, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Rodney Parade region head into must-win home European Challenge Cup clashes against Enisei-STM and Newcastle on the back of a 10-try, 32-32 draw against the Irish province.

The encounter against the Russian minnows combined with the spirit shown against PRO14 title contenders Ulster means that Jackman is no rush to bring back his Wales quartet of tighthead Leon Brown, hooker Elliot Dee, lock Cory Hill and wing Hallam Amos.

“The plan was always to not play Leon, Elliot, Cory and Hallam, to give them a really good break into Newcastle and the derbies,” said the head coach, whose side host Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys in December.

“I was at the Welsh team run on Friday and Warren Gatland is really happy with them. It’s been very intense mentally for them and we want them to freshen up.

“Thankfully I can trust the other guys now to go out and do a job against Enisei. They have earned another chance. It’s about backing it up now.”

The Ulster performance contrasted starkly with the previous PRO14 outings on the road to Munster and Leinster when hammered 49-6 and 54-10 respectively.

“Character is everything. Character is more important than talent,” said Jackman.

“But now we have to back it up, we can’t just do it when we are being put under pressure, abused, slagged off and ridiculed.

“It’s easy to do that when fighting your way out of a corner. Can we do it next week when people are saying ‘well done, you’ve had a great match’? That’s the challenge now.”

The Ulster game attracted a crowd of 4,477 and the boss believes the gutsy performance of his charges will have sent the punters home happy on a freezing night in Newport.

“The biggest question against Ulster was about character,” he said. “We showed that and hopefully the fans are starting to get prouder of us.

“When we play like that, with spirit and heart, they get attached to it. We played some good stuff and I don’t think we were lucky to get a draw, it was deserved.

“I think we just need to represent the region well. Fans will accept this year if we don’t win every game and if they see big commitment, sacrifice and abrasiveness then they are going to follow us.”

The Dragons are third in Pool One on six points, level with second-placed Bordeaux-Begles and three back on Newcastle, who host the Frenchmen on Saturday.