Dragons striving for more in 2019-20

Charlie Talbot-Smith
21 June 2019

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The Dragons will be looking to turn the page on a 2018-19 Guinness PRO14 season that did not go to plan.

They only won five games in the league, parted ways with their head coach Bernard Jackman before Christmas, and went on an eight-game winless run in the league in 2019.

But the season ended on a high with the derby day win over the Scarlets, the appointment of Dean Ryan in charge as director of rugby, and the acquisition of Sam Davies for next season.

Key strengths

The Dragons set-piece and defence matched up pretty well with most of the sides in the league.

Indeed, at the lineout, they made more steals than almost any other side in the league throughout the season.

Their scrum success rate of 90.1 per cent was also consistent enough to keep them in games.

Areas to improve

But with ball in hand, the Dragons have much to work on next season.

They were the worst in the league when it came to total carries, metres made, clean breaks and defenders beaten.

Their goalkicking was also down at 74.7 per cent while only the Toyota Cheetahs and Isuzu Southern Kings fell off more tackles.

Star moment

But finishing the season on a high at Principality Stadium gives them something to work on.

With the likes of Ross Moriarty and Richard Hibbard to the fore, they downed the Scarlets 34-32 in a nail-biter to end the campaign with optimism.

A late Matthew Screech try and Jason Tovey conversion sealed the win for the Gwent region.

Rhys Patchell’s last-gasp drop-goal went wide as the Dragons celebrated their first league win away from Rodney Parade since March 2015.

They will also take heart from a win over Edinburgh Rugby in November and a narrow victory over the Ospreys after Christmas.

Breakout player

Jared Rosser announced himself last season on the wing.

And the youngster picked up where he left off this term with another string of fine showings in an elusive back three alongside Jordan Williams.

Williams also deserves a mention for his efforts with ball in hand. He finished in the top ten for defenders beaten with 49 and, overall, made 1091m – fourth in the league.

Key man

Moriarty was often absent from the Dragons back row – first with injury and then due to international call-ups.

But Aaron Wainwright continues his emergence as one of the foremost flankers not only just in Wales but in Europe.

Equally comfortable at open and blindside, Wainwright looks likely to be on the plane to Japan this autumn and made 204 tackles this season in the league to lead the way.

A word too for Ollie Griffiths who managed 11 turnovers in his own injury-hit campaign and Matthew Screech and Cory Hill who were tireless in the second row.

Who’s in?

The main news is obviously the arrival of Ryan at the helm.

And with Davies installed at No.10 to pull the strings, better times might well be around the corner for the Dragons after a few seasons in the doldrums.

James McCarthy also arrives from Munster while the large figure of Jack Cosgrove is also arriving in Gwent from Worcester Warriors.

Who’s out?

There are some tough departures to take, with Hallam Amos and Jason Tovey both heading to the Cardiff Blues.

Elsewhere, Gerard Ellis is off to Coventry, Calvin Wellington to Sale, Rynard Landman to Montauban, and Rhodri Davies to Cornish Pirates.

Also released have been George Gasson, Gavin Henson, Zane Kirchner Jarryd Sage and Dan Suter.

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