THE Dragons started their European Challenge Cup campaign with a bonus-point win against Castres at Rodney Parade. Here are the talking points from the 31-17 triumph…

RISING STAR

Taine Basham has always had the habit of producing the eye-catching moments, as his Six Nations hat-trick for Wales Under-20s in Italy showed last season.

His try record for the Dragons isn’t too shabby and he’s already looking good to top the charts for 2019/20 after racking up six in seven games. That takes his record to 9 in 21 regional outings.

However, it’s not just the champagne moments anymore with dynamic Basham, he is getting more and more accurate in his work and the error count is reducing.

The Dragons are blessed with back row options but Basham looks set to push Aaron Wainwright, Ross Moriarty and Ollie Griffiths hard throughout the campaign.

READ MORE: Dragons 31 Castres 17

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SUPER SKIPPER

Richard Hibbard had a superb first season at Rodney Parade and returned to those standards by leading the charge against Castres.

He was the Argus star man for his efforts, combining big hits in defence with solid set piece work and excellent leadership.

Rhodri Williams has captained the Dragons in the PRO14 with the assistance of Hibbard but the former Lions front rower was skipper on Saturday and stepped up.

Perhaps it’s the prospect of Elliot Dee returning in December that has fired up the ultracompetitive Hibbard!

SECOND-HALF STRUGGLE

The Dragons were probably a little fortunate to have such a commanding 28-10 lead at half-time and it certainly didn’t feel like a winning advantage.

They needed to play at tempo and keep the foot down but instead they hardly fired a shot in the second half.

Castres were always going to come out swinging but the Dragons didn’t help themselves with their inaccuracy and failure to punish mistakes made by the visitors.

When the French side made errors in Dragons territory the hosts failed to take advantage by having a spell in the other half.

Other teams, Worcester in the Challenge Cup and the Welsh rivals in the festive derbies, won’t be so shoddy.

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DRIVING FORCE

In midweek forwards coach Ceri Jones had spoken about how the Dragons’ attacking drive was on the up. So it proved in the opening stages.

It provided Basham’s first directly and the second came while penalty advantage was being played after Castres had infringed.

There was one that got away in the first half, just as referee JP Doyle was losing patience with the Frenchmen offending in defence of the drive, and the tables turned after the break.

Castres didn’t muscle their way over from it but the Dragons can count themselves lucky that Doyle didn’t show they a yellow such was the frequency with which they were pinged for in at the side.

BACKING IT UP

Beating Castres with a bonus sets the tone for the tournament and now the Dragons must back it up against Enisei-STM in Krasnodar.

Given that Worcester thumped the Russians at Kuban Stadium in round one, Ryan’s men should sit on 10 points heading into the December double-header with Worcester.

As long as the Dragons win their home games for the rest of the competition they will have a crack at repeating the 2015 and 2016 feats of reaching the knockout stages.

While PRO14 progress is understandably Ryan’s priority, a last-eight tie in April would be a good indicator of strides being taken.