IT proved to be a derby too many for the Dragons as their Guinness PRO14 travel sickness continued against the Scarlets.

The Rodney Parade region were beaten 22-13 in Llanelli after suffering from predictable scrum struggles in an underwhelming affair.

The Scarlets looked a shadow of the side that won the title in 2017 and made it to the Champions Cup semi-finals last season, strangely hesitant and off the money with ball in hand.

Nonetheless, Wayne Pivac’s men were still more than good value for a win that stretches the Dragons’ woe on the road to 39 losses since beating Treviso in March, 2015.

The visitors scrapped and grafted but looked like a tired side after impressing in defeat to Cardiff Blues and when edging out the Ospreys in a thriller.

With a scrum maybe they could have caused an upset but without one they seemed to be in damage limitation mode, unable to build any sort of pressure in attack.

The Dragons got themselves fired up for their derby at the Arms Park, when denied a share of the spoils by Gareth Anscombe’s final kick, and Rodney Parade, when they ended their four-year derby drought.

The clash out west didn’t have the same intensity, fire and edge, and not just because of the farce at the set piece.

Too many players – notably Aaron Wainwright after his superhuman exploits against the Blues and Ospreys – looked like they were running on fumes.

Thankfully a return to the Challenge Cup and Friday’s meeting with Timisoara Saracens provides the chance to ring the changes and recharge the batteries.

Campaign Series:

There was plenty of pre-match talk of the Dragons being favourites because of the Scarlets’ lengthy injury list and iffy form.

The hosts fielded Lions hooker Ken Owens as a makeshift number eight but were still able to boast a formidable team featuring Jonathan Davies and Hadleigh Parkes in midfield, an all-Wales front from of Rob Evans, Ryan Elias and Samson Lee and livewire New Zealander Johnny McNicholl at full-back.

The Dragons’ list of absentees wasn’t quite as long but they still missed influential back rowers Ollie Griffiths and Ross Moriarty while their propping woes saw Ryan Bevington join Brok Harris, Leon Brown and Lloyd Fairbrother on the sidelines.

That led to Aaron Jarvis moving to loosehead and Dan Suter making his first start at tighthead since being given a torrid time by Evans at Judgement Day at the end of last season.

It was clear that the Scarlets would try to dominate at the set piece – and they swiftly got the nudge on in the third minute for fly-half Dan Jones to open the scoring from the tee.

The Dragons pack responded in kind – Suter getting the better of Evans – only for Josh Lewis to shave the left post from 45 metres.

And the tit-for-tat continued with Jones making it 6-0 after 11 minutes from referee Craig Evans giving the decision to namesake Rob.

The Dragons’ scrum worries got worse when Jarvis, who had been a doubt for the game, limped off after 16 minutes clutching his right hamstring to be replaced by back row forward turned hooker turned loosehead Gerard Ellis.

Precious little rugby had been played with the sparse derby crowd getting restless at the continuing scrum farce and scrappy offering.

The west Walians were even more frustrated when a fine box kick by Dragons scrum-half Tavis Knoyle was chased hard by flanker Aaron Wainwright and lock Matthew Screech won a breakdown penalty.

Lewis kicked it between the sticks and the lead was cut to 6-3 after 31 minutes.

The Scarlets adopted a more direct approach as half-time approached and it almost paid dividends when Rob Evans carried over the line but full-back Zane Kirchner got underneath the ball.

The tackle looked to ride up around the neck, running the risk of a penalty try, but the officials were happy and the Scarlets had to settle for a penalty for an earlier offence to make it 9-3.

There was still time for more action and that was to the Dragons’ cost with a break into the 22 leading to a Scarlets scrum, another penalty, a yellow card for Suter and three more points for Jones.

The start of the second half would be key and the Scarlets started shoddily despite their numerical advantage.

The Dragons were down to 14 but back within six points when Lewis slotted his second penalty with 48 minutes on the clock.

Their defence, combined with a sluggish home attack, was keeping it tight and the Scarlets turned to their driving lineout to try and stretch ahead.

Even that spluttered – two penalties were kicked to five metres out only for Elias to overcook his throw.

But the hosts had the lead their dominance, at least in terms of territory and possession, deserved when the back three combined to make it 17-6 in the 58th minute.

Lineout ball off the top put left wing Paul Asquith running into the 22 with Jonathan Davies the decoy and he found full-back Johnny McNicholl, who put right winger Ioan Nicholas over down the right.

The Dragons had to defend tenaciously to keep it at 17-6 as the clock ticked towards 70 minutes but hopes of building any pressure were undermined by the struggling set piece, although young replacement Chris Coleman coped slightly better than Suter.

The game was drifting towards 80 minutes but the Scarlets were over for their second when Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, the Scottish scrum-half who put the Dragons to the sword in the Challenge Cup semi-final in Edinburgh, sniped over from a quick tap.

The visitors were out on their feet but managed to have the final say.

Rhodri Williams burst into the Scarlets’ half and centre Jack Dixon and wing Adam Warren combined to put flanker James Benjamin over for a try that Jason Tovey converted.

The Dragons were well beaten but at least showed tenacity to keep it tight in an underwhelming clash.

Scarlets: J McNicholl, I Nicholas, J Davies (S Hughes 74), H Parkes, P Asquith; D Jones (T Prydie 74), K Hardy (S Hidalgo-Clyne 61); R Evans (W Jones 60), R Elias (M Jones 61), S Lee (W Kruger 48), J Helps, D Bulbring, E Kennedy (T Phillips 58), D Davis, K Owens (captain).

Scorers: tries – I Nicholas, S Hidalgo-Clyne; conversion – D Jones; penalties – D Jones (4)

Dragons: Z Kirchner (J Williams 55), A Warren, T Morgan, J Dixon, H Amos; J Lewis (J Tovey 68), T Knoyle (R Williams 48); A Jarvis (G Ellis 16), R Hibbard (E Dee 48), D Suter (C Coleman 48), B Nansen (J Davies 68), M Screech, C Hill (captain, C Coleman 42-48), A Wainwright, H Keddie (J Benjamin 68).

Scorers: try – J Benjamin; conversion – J Tovey; penalties – J Lewis (2)

Yellow cards: D Suter

Referee: Craig Evans (WRU)

Attendance: 8,167