DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan is hopeful of a Castres slip-up at his old stomping ground after the region lost control of their European Challenge Cup destiny.

Ryan’s men were overpowered 42-14 at the Stade Pierre-Fabre, a result that saw them overtaken at the top of Pool One.

The Rodney Parade region now need to beat Enisei-STM with a bonus point and hope the 2018 French champions to slip up at Worcester on Friday night if they are to win the group and qualify automatically for the quarter-finals.

“We are at home and there is lots for Castres to do,” said Ryan. “Last rounds of Europe are strange things and anything can happen.

“We knew that if we couldn’t win in Castres we would lose control, so now we just have to control what we can against Enisei.”

The Dragons created openings in the first half at the Stade Pierre-Fabre but Ryan lamented their lack of a finishing touch, with Jared Rosser’s late brace coming when the game had gone.

“It was a hell of a challenge. In that first 30 or 40 minutes we had some moments that we needed to nail down against a fully-loaded Castres side in front of their own crowd,” said the director of rugby.

“We knew that it was going to be difficult to hold them in the drive but we also knew that if we kept the pace high we would get chances. The risk of keeping the pace high is that you make errors.

“But you can’t come to Castres and stay in an arm wrestle when you are giving three stone a man away.

“The first 40 minutes had everything other than us getting over the line, then that made us look for stuff that wasn’t there in the second half.

“I can’t speak highly enough of my own team because they gave it everything they could out there, even in the last minute they were still giving it everything in a game they couldn’t win.”

The Dragons were forced into a last-minute change when centre Adam Warren suffered a severe nosebleed, leading to Jack Dixon starting and Tom Griffiths moving to 13.

They also started with fly-half Jacob Botica at full-back and tighthead Lloyd Fairbrother at loosehead, while their bench included youngsters Ellis Shipp, Josh Reynolds, Chris Coleman and Max Williams as cover for the tight five.

“The Dragons have a very, very young and thin squad,” said Ryan. “We’ve had a hectic period (with three derbies) and that is hurting us a bit.

“This was a huge contest and full credit to Castres because some of the stuff that they did was outstanding, sometimes you’ve got to accept that people play differently and you have to respect the way that they play the game.

“That’s probably as physical a game as we have played this season, so we have got some bruised bodies.”