THE Dragons started their European Challenge Cup campaign with a bonus-point win against Castres – but still earned a telling off from boss Dean Ryan.

The Rodney Parade region beat the 2013 and 2018 French champions 31-17 in Newport thanks to tries in the first half by back row forward Taine Basham (3) and wing Dafydd Howells.

However, they had to survive a second-half onslaught from Castres to take the spoils and returned to their changing room to be told by their director of rugby that there is plenty to work on.

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“Weirdly, I am not that happy,” said Ryan. “I don’t think that was anywhere near where we can be and a couple of tries probably masked that in the first half.

“We have to enjoy winning but we also have to understand that we can be way better than that.

“First half we were bailing out of things and every time that they attacked us they caused us a huge amount of problems.

“We talked all week about some simple things that we need to keep getting right and sometimes we have got habits of jumping into moments that put us under pressure rather than just repeating basics.

“We have got enough players that can make things happen but the game I watch isn’t necessarily the same one as the spectator watches.

“It’s not score-reflective and there were a lot of things that we could’ve done better in that first half and then really kicked on in the second half.

“In the second half we just had to sit it out, we were always going to get the kitchen sink thrown at us with a pack of Castres’ size.

“We didn’t get any field position or anything, and even then we got moments where we could clear but didn’t. We just can’t keep doing that because that will hurt us in other games.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys in the squad and sometimes I will pat them on the back and say outstanding, but today was one of the days where we need to be better and not let scorelines mask that.”

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Ryan made eight changes to the side that produced a battling display in defeat to Edinburgh and was pleased that a youthful squad earned the win, and gained valuable experience.

“The positives are that this is a young squad that is learning,” said Ryan. “This is not a squad that has been together a long time and it’s not a squad that has got loads of internationals.

“The positives are that Taine Basham was outstanding, Ben Fry came on, Max Williams the 21-year-old lock.

“But we talk about not masking our good when we lose heavily and also when we win well it shouldn’t mask our bad. For this squad to keep learning that is the way we will keep dealing with things.”

The Dragons travel to Enisei-STMm who were hammered by Worcester in round one, on Friday.