THE Dragons XV suffered a 40-31 defeat to Cardiff Blues A in a loose 11-try Celtic Cup clash in the capital.

After an inexperienced side beat Munster with a six-try performance in Newport in round two, the region used the trip to the Arms Park to provide game time for their seniors ahead of the start of the Guinness PRO14.

They will feel the benefit of blowing away the cobwebs when the Scarlets head east for a double-header next Saturday, but the Dragons didn’t get a win that would have left them in the mix at the top of the Celtic Cup table.

The clash against Munster felt like a competition game whereas this was more like a friendly with both teams looking to build towards the end of the month, with Cardiff Blues fielding four internationals and the Dragons seven.

There was some entertainment for the watching crowd, albeit the game lacked the structure of a full-blown derby.

Director of rugby Dean Ryan was an interested onlooker (although he did address the post-match huddle) as coach Luke Narraway called the shots in the capital and his side made a rapid start while plenty of the crowd, forced into a dilemma courtesy of a daft kick-off time, were still watching the end of Ireland versus Wales on the big screen.

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They went into a 7-0 lead when, after captain Harri Keddie had been prominent with plenty of hard carrying, flanker Huw Taylor burst into the 22 and put prop Ryan Bevington under the posts.

Jacob Botica added the extras but it was soon level-pegging with a nicely-crafted Blues score for fly-half Dan Fish that Lewis Jones converted.

Fish then pulled up after failing to find touch with a penalty, leading to the early introduction of the Dragons’ record points scorer Jason Tovey following his summer move to the capital.

He was soon lining up a shot at goal after some soft tackling down the right wing allowed centre Harri Millard to cross. Tovey extended the lead to 14-7 after 16 minutes.

The Dragons lost captain Keddie in the 23rd minute – he had ice strapped to his chest but it didn’t look to be too serious – and his replacement Ollie Griffiths swiftly played a key role in the second try.

The back row forward carrying dynamically into the 22 and then Botica nicely chipped over to the right wing for Dafydd Howells to gather and dot down to make it 14-12.

One brought two with the twice-capped Wales international then picking off a pass from Lewis Jones inside the 22 and (just) winning an entertaining footrace with fellow speedster Aled Summerhill.

Botica missed his second tough touchline conversion and then missed a far simpler penalty from in front of the posts, leaving it at 17-14 as the break approached.

But the Blues got their noses in front when lock Ben Murphy crashed over from the final play of the half after wing Jason Harries had been brought down just short.

Tovey converted and the lead was 21-17, which was extended to 28-17 early in the second half when a penalty was kicked to the corner and then a move to the front of the lineout saw Lewis Jones dart over down the left.

Pinned to the touchline, Tovey twisted the knife with a super conversion of the bonus-point score.

But the Dragons responded quickly to close back to within a score with half an hour left, scrum-half Tavis Knoyle darting over after an attack in the 22 that saw back rowers Ollie Griffiths and Taine Basham both go agonisingly close.

Botica added the simple extras to cut the gap to 28-24 but not for long – the Dragons were caught napping when Jones raced over from a tap and go for a five-pointer.

High-profile summer signing Sam Davies was called from the Dragons bench on the hour along with full-back Jordan Williams but they couldn’t work miracles and the killer try came through Wales lock Rory Thornton after some slick handling down the left after 68 minutes.

Tovey converted to make it 40-24 and the Dragons were left playing for a more respectable scoreline.

They achieved that when Davies glided through midfield before calmly putting half-back partner Rhodri Williams under the posts and then slotting a drop-kick conversion.

Cardiff Blues A: I Davies; J Harries, H Millard, G Smith, A Summerhill; D Fish, L Jones; C Domachowski, L Belcher, W Davies King, B Murphy, M Cook, S Lewis-Hughes, J Botham, A Lawrence (captain).

Replacements: E Lewis, B Thyer, S Andrews, R Thornton, W Boyde, J Hill, J Tovey, B Thomas, S Davies, T Williams.

Scorers: tries – D Fish, H Millard, B Murphy, L Jones (2), R Thornton; conversions – L Jones, J Tovey

Dragons XV: O Jenkins, D Howells, A Warren, J Dixon, R Dyer, J Botica, T Knoyle, R Bevington, R Lawrence, C Coleman, J Davies, M Williams, H Taylor, T Basham, H Keddie.

Replacements used: E Shipp, J Reynolds, L Fairbrother, M Screech, O Griffiths, R Williams, S Davies, A Owen, J Williams, C Penny.

Scorers: tries – R Bevington, D Howells (2), T Knoyle, R Williams; conversions – J Botica (2), S Davies

Referee: Adam Jones (WRU)