THE Dragons ended their long wait for a Guinness PRO14 derby win when they beat the Ospreys 23-22. Here are the talking points from the Rodney Parade fixture…

FINE MARGINS

The Dragons’ last win against the Ospreys had come when Dan Biggar hit the right post with a drop goal at the death in January, 2012.

This time another visiting 10 had the chance to snatch the spoils but Sam Davies, who had kicked beautifully, pulled his 80th minute effort from the tee.

His miss meant that the Dragons got the win that their effort deserved, a weekend after their toil earned a consolation losing bonus when they were seconds away from a draw at Cardiff Blues.

It would have been a hard one for the Dragons to take had Davies followed Gareth Anscombe in sneaking victory.

Thankfully they now have a launchpad for 2019 after ending the derby losing streak at 23 games.

DEFENSIVE HEART

The work was already underway in the final weeks of the Bernard Jackman era when it came to shoring up the Dragons’ leaky defence.

The Irishman would have watched with a rueful smile when tuning in on Eir Sport with the Dragons backing up their effort in the capital, when they limited the Blues to a Dan Fish try, to get the job done against the Ospreys.

The visitors enjoyed plenty of pressure but the Dragons had excellent line speed, good spacing and scrambled superbly to see their line crossed just once after a lovely combination from Olly Cracknell and Justin Tipuric.

Good defence is chiefly down to desire and attitude – the Dragons’ was 10/10.

CHASING HARD

The Dragons’ attacking game needs to be sharper but they won the kicking game and their chasing led to the two tries.

Jared Rosser went after what seemed to be a lost cause in the first half to profit from a bounce after Dan Evans and Luke Morgan, a pair of former Dragons, failed to deal with Rhodri Williams’ hoof clear.

The Dragons speedster then chased hard to clatter Morgan and force a daft error from his fellow sevens international.

Cory Hill went close after hacking the loose ball clear but the second key try soon followed.

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CAPTAIN FANTASTIC

Cory Hill was up against two inspirational figures in Justin Tipuric and Alun Wyn Jones but he matched them.

The lock, playing at blindside, has turned into a huge figure for the Dragons and has grown and grown thanks to his exploits on the Test stage.

His management of referees is getting better and better, while his decision to go to the corner in the second half was backed up by the pack’s execution of a sneaky move that led to Elliot Dee’s vital try.

Hill’s performance was hugely influential in the forward enjoying the biggest win of his club captaincy career.

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UNSUNG HEROES

That the Dragons have failed to put in the performances to match the potential of the squad cost Jackman his job, yet this was a win when players who arguably wouldn’t be in the best XV stood tall.

Matthew Screech got through some mightily impressive work and his partnership with Brandon Nansen went well against the Wales duo of Adam Beard and Alun Wyn Jones.

Zane Kirchner has had a tricky time since heading for the Dragons from Leinster but this was one of the former Springboks best performances – his kicking was superb, especially one touch-finder to within five metres in the second half.

In August we would have expected the midfield combo to be Jack Dixon and Tyler Morgan yet Jarryd Sage and Adam Warren were excellent, just as they were against Cardiff Blues.

At this time of the year every team has their absentees but the Dragons can be encouraged at such an important win even though they were without the likes of Brok Harris, Leon Brown, Ollie Griffiths, Ross Moriarty and Ashton Hewitt.