DEAN Ryan believes the Dragons' hammering by Connacht laid bare for the first time the shortcomings he has to help them tackle.

The director of rugby took over the reins at Rodney Parade this summer after being chosen as Bernard Jackman's successor.

Ryan's first game was a loss at Munster but he then oversaw an excellent 52-28 win at Zebre – a triumph that ended a four-and-a-half year away drought in the Guinness PRO14.

However, the Dragons were swiftly brought back to earth when hammered 38-14 by Connacht in their first home fixture of the season.

The Irish province ruthlessly exposed the Dragons' deficiencies, outmuscling them in the tight, and Ryan saw how his charges reacted to adversity on a demoralising night.

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"I'm here to try and help, so that's the first time I have seen certain things and therefore that enables me to work out how to support or challenge the squad," said the former Bristol, Gloucester and Worcester boss.

"It's always about a journey and this game is not about something that you can do one week and keep replicating. That's the great thing about it, it is diverse and different every week.

"This was another challenge but it was consistent with some of the things from Munster, although against Connacht we had control and then let it go.

"That means we have to address why we are not adapting or what it is that we don't relish about that part of the game."

The Dragons bossed the first quarter and led 7-0 only to be hit by 38 unanswered points from the Irish province, leading to heads dropping.

"It's the first time that I have seen us lose confidence and we just became a little bit more individual," said Ryan.

"As we react to pressure everybody with good intent tries to do something but it's all a little bit off-script.

"That was the first time that I have seen that and it's something that we've got to try to address, giving people confidence to stay on the things that we are trying to do, and do them better."

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Ryan brought defence coach Simon Cross in to work with the Dragons this summer and the former Edinburgh captain has continued to help at the start of the campaign.

The ex-flanker has to fit in sessions with his full-time job as head of rugby at Royal Grammar School Worcester and, after the campaign started with away clashes at Munster and Zebre, Connacht was the first game that he has been able to watch his charges live.

"Defensively in any of the games we haven't looked particularly troubled," said Ryan. "Against Connacht we missed more tackles, but they were physicality tackles, which is concerning.

"We have looked quite robust in terms of our defensive shape, but we couldn't hold a scrum or keep them off with a five-metre driving lineout. That's not down to defence coaches, that's a mindset that we've got to look at addressing.

"It was good to have Simon there on Friday night, because we hadn't had him at many games and it gives him an insight to the scale of the challenge.

"We don't have a full-time defence coach, which is the nature of our challenge in terms of resources."