THE year finished as it started with the Dragons downed by the Ospreys at a sodden Rodney Parade.

The west Walians won the New Year’s Day meeting between the sides in Newport and they ended 2017 by repeating the trick 22-9 thanks to tries by hooker Scott Baldwin, wing Cory Allen and full-back Sam Davies.

The result means that the Dragons’ Guinness PRO14 derby losing streak has stretched to 19 games ahead of Friday’s tricky trip to the buoyant Scarlets.

Against Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day they left their charge too late but this loss was sadly no tale of woe or a missed opportunity.

The conditions meant it was the second festive derby in Newport that failed the hit the heights, although at least the new hybrid pitch meant there wasn’t any need for the pitch/mudbath inspections of last January.

The inexperienced Dragons showed plenty of spirit to stay in the fight after conceding a pair of early tries but they didn’t have the quality to put their guests under any sustained pressure.

There were flashes to provide encouragement but in the end it was a pretty comprehensive loss to the more streetwise Ospreys, who are in slightly fake position at the bottom of Conference A.

It was a 2017 of great change to give hope of a bright future at Rodney Parade, yet it was a miserable one on the pitch, featuring just seven wins in 33 games in all competitions.

Head coach Bernard Jackman has encountered many of the same problems that his predecessor Kingsley Jones has, albeit the Irishman has more tools to fix them for 2018/19.

The Dragons have another chance to end the league derby losing streak in Llanelli, then another against the champions at Judgement Day in the season finale, but the nagging fear is that they will be waiting until the reinforcements arrive in the summer.

The hope is that the presence of Ross Moriarty, Richard Hibbard, Rhodri Williams and others will give them the belief to claim a first scalp against the Ospreys since 2012, the Scarlets since 2013 and the Blues since 2014.

The Dragons and Ospreys headed into the last game of 2017 both struggling at the wrong end of their respective conferences yet a glance at the respective matchday squad showed by the home side were underdogs.

While the visitors could field a back row featuring Lions in Justin Tipuric and Dan Lydiate alongside Olly Cracknell, a member of Wales’ last Six Nations squad, the hosts fielded novice Aaron Wainwright, sevens specialist Ben Roach and James Benjamin, who has been in superb form after being frozen out last season.

While the visitors fielded Wales’ half-backs Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar, the hosts plumped for 17-year-old Dan Babos and 20-year-old Arwel Robson with a combined tally of seven senior starts.

The two youngsters certainly didn’t let themselves down despite the challenging conditions, showing the sort of feistiness (perhaps even cockiness?!) and self-assuredness that is needed in their positions.

The Ospreys were able to bring iconic lock Alun Wyn Jones off the bench in the closing stage while the Dragons gave a chance to Robson Blake, a former tree surgeon who has earned a shot as a pro thanks to fine displays with Bedwas.

The hope is that next season will be more of a contest when cavalry arrives and the lengthy injury list diminishes.

The Dragons were 7-0 down with just five minutes on the clock when a scrum penalty on halfway led to a driving lineout score for Baldwin, Biggar converting after his fine kick to touch helped earn the try.

Robson swiftly responded with a three-pointer but the gap got bigger thanks to Biggar in the 13th minute.

The Wales fly-half majestically claimed an aerial bomb ahead of wing Jared Rosser, who won’t enjoy watching the duel back, before racing down the right and offloading for Allen to slide over.

With the rain hammering down, a 12-3 lead was already a sizeable margin and thankfully another Ospreys opportunity for a driving lineout, after a neat Dan Evans grubber through, wasn’t taken.

The Dragons inched closer with another Robson penalty and the Ospreys suffered a double blow with Lydiate and try scorer Allen forced off after 24 minutes.

They were temporarily joined on the sidelines by Webb on the half hour, but not before the Lion had gone within inches of a third try after exploiting the presence of loosehead Sam Hobbs at a ruck to dart through.

He didn’t get over the line but the break did earn three point for Biggar and a yellow card for Dragons centre Jack Dixon for killing the ball by his posts.

However, the 14-man hosts cancelled out that penalty with one of their own thanks to a strong scrum and the Dragons trailed 15-9 at the break, with a bout of handbags as the teams trotted towards their changing rooms.

The hosts started the second half well and enjoyed a good bout of pressure in the 22 only for Tipuric to spy a chance to clamp over the ball and earn a penalty to release.

The scoreboard operators hadn’t been troubled with 55 gone but the Ospreys still turned down a shot at goal and the chance to stretch a score clear.

The decision to go for the corner paid off when several charges at the line ended with a sumptuous Webb pass to the right for unmarked full-back Davies to go over. Biggar’s lovely conversion made it 22-9 entering the final quarter.

The Dragons had been cracked and desperate late efforts to earn a consolation bonus failed in the slippery conditions.

Dragons: C Meyer, A Hewitt, S Beard (J Sage 40), J Dixon, J Rosser, A Robson (A O’Brien 59), D Babos (S Pretorius 52), S Hobbs (T Davies 40), E Dee (L Belcher 69), L Fairbrother (N Thomas 51), C Hill (captain), R Landman (J Sheekey 40, R Blake 68), A Wainwright, B Roach, J Benjamin.

Scorers: penalties – A Robson (3)

Ospreys: D Evans, C Allen (S Davies 24), A Beck, O Watkin, J Hassler (J Hook 71), D Biggar, R Webb (T Habberfield 30-40, 60), N Smith (P James 63-76), S Baldwin (S Otten 78), D Arhip (M Fia 51), B Davies, A Beard (AW Jones 63), D Lydiate (captain, R McCusker 24), J Tipuric, O Cracknell.

Scorers: tries – S Baldwin, C Allen, S Davies ; conversions – D Biggar ; penalties – D Biggar

Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)

Attendance: 5,519

Argus star man: Aaron Wainwright