THE Dragons showed fight and resilience after Taine Basham’s controversial red card in the first half to claim a consolation bonus in a 34-28 defeat to Worcester in the European Challenge Cup.

The Rodney Parade region had their backs against the wall when the 20-year-old back rower was sent off in the first quarter of the clash at Sixways.

They were unable to upset the odds by beating the Warriors, who claimed a four-try bonus, but they did take something to shown for their sweat courtesy of a late breakaway try by scrum-half Luke Baldwin, on loan from Worcester.

It wasn’t what they came for but the consolation could prove to be a precious bonus, especially if the Dragons avenge the defeat at Rodney Parade on Friday.

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The visitors led 10-3 in the West Midlands when Basham chased a kick that was gathered by replacement back Gareth Simpson.

The 20-year-old back rower, who played a part in Wales’ preparations for the Barbarians international, hit his target forcefully but his left foot slipped on the turf.

Simpson landed heavily on his upper arm and referee Marius Mitrea, who did not have the help of a TMO, went to consult one of his touch judges.

When the Italian official reached for his pocket most expected yellow but instead it was red.

Basham had put himself in peril through his keenness and losing control but the decision looked extremely harsh and left the Dragons up against it.

Yet they retained their composure and through spirit and organisation headed home with a well-deserved bonus.

Dean Ryan, who was returning to his former Sixways stomping ground, emphasised that the double-header would set up the pool and potentially avoid the need for victory in Castres given their formidable record at the Stade Pierre-Fabre.

Worcester have started the season strongly to sit fourth in the English Premiership but rang the changes.

That made it a golden opportunity for the Dragons to secure a precious away win given that Ryan, on his return to Sixways, brought back his Wales internationals.

Aaron Wainwright, Elliot Dee, Ashton Hewitt, Sam Davies, Leon Brown and Ollie Griffiths all featured after being on international duty against the Barbarians last weekend.

Yet the plans of the week were torn up while it was still daylight in the West Midlands.

Worcester took the lead in the seventh minute through the left boot of fly-half Jamie Shillcock but the Dragons responded well to score the first try of the afternoon.

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Fly-half Davies’ flat ball put blindside Wainwright through a gaping hole in midfield on the 10-metre line at full tilt.

The Wales international showed tremendous pace and then destructive power against wing Chris Pennell and full-back Noah Heward, who had the unenviable task of trying to stop him five metres out.

Davies converted the try for a 7-3 lead after 14 minutes but the Dragons were up against it when Basham was controversially shown red before a quarter of the game had been played.

The visiting number 10 missed a chance for a penalty and then the Warriors made their man advantage count.

They hammered away in the 22 before centre Ryan Mills powered over under the posts, making Shillcock’s conversion a simple one for a 10-7 lead.

The Dragons had to compose themselves, and channel any sense of injustice. They possessed the talent to cause the Warriors problems, while the scrum was going strongly.

Davies and Shillcock traded penalties and it was 13-10 at the break with the former missing a chance to level from the tee soon after the resumption.

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However, the Dragons had their noses back in front after 47 minutes and this time they were the beneficiaries of a stroke of fortune.

Adam Warren’s pass to Tyler Morgan was generously deemed to have been flat and the outside centre then popped the ball to scrum-half Rhodri Williams, who had the pace to go over in the left corner for a 15-13 lead.

Davies extended that with a sweetly-struck penalty but the Warriors went over for the second after 55 minutes, justifying the decision to go for a scrum rather than the posts when centre Ollie Lawrence was worked over for a try down the left.

Shillcock converted but it was the shortest of leads; Worcester dropped the restart, were pinged for offside and Davies slotted a penalty to make it 21-20.

However, the Warriors were back in control after 65 minutes when the ball came squirting out of a ruck and full-back Noah Heward gathered and raced clear. Shillcock made it 27-21 to the hosts.

The Dragons were still in bonus-point range but were then forced to chase a consolation when Lawrence burst through and put replacement scrum-half Jono Kitto over for a converted try.

It looked like the visitors toil and endeavour would count for nothing but then a moment of Davies inspiration, and a fortunate bounce, led to try number three.

The fly-half chipped over the defensive line in his 22, gathered and then put replacement scrum-half Luke Baldwin, on loan from Worcester and under contract at Sixways for next season, over.

Davies put over the extras and it was 34-28, leaving the Dragons pleased to see Worcester kick the ball out at the death.

Job done for the Warriors, not a bad job for the 14-man Dragons.

Worcester: N Heward, P Humphreys, O Lawrence, R Mills, N David, J Shillcock, M Heaney, R Bower, M Moulds, C Carey, A Kitchener, J Clegg, T Dodd, M Cox, GJ van Velze (captain). Replacements: I Miller, K Owen, R Palframan, J Scott, M Monks, J Kitto, G Simpson, C Pennell.

Scorers: tries – R Mills, O Lawrence, N Heward, J Kitto; conversions – J Shillcock (4); penalties – J Shillcock (2)

Dragons: W Talbot-Davies, O Jenkins, T Morgan, T Griffiths (A Warren 6), A Hewitt, S Davies, R Williams (captain, L Baldwin 73), B Harris (J Reynolds 73), R Hibbard (E Dee 59), L Brown (A Jarvis 59), J Davies (M Williams 73), M Screech, A Wainwright, O Griffiths (H Taylor 71), T Basham.

Scorers: tries – A Wainwright, R Williams, L Baldwin; conversions – S Davies (2); penalties – S Davies (3)

Red card: T Basham

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)

Attendance: 6,899

Argus star man: Brok Harris