By David Williams
Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan has urged his team to keep their winning form when they travel to South Africa, following their landmark win against the Ospreys.
The Rodney Parade club had not won in front of their own fans for over a year, but finally broke that awful sequence with a 20-5 victory on Saturday night.
Dragons head of performance Dan Baugh could be in trouble with United Rugby Championship (URC) officials after a dispute with referee Ben Whitehouse but Flanagan will demand the success is not a one-off flash in the pan.
With his team due to fly south and take on the Sharks in Durban and Lions in Johannesburg, Flanagan said: “We have always looked forward to South Africa with the good weather and the fast tracks, and we can look forward to it even more now.
“If we can reproduce the attacking performance that we did against the Ospreys, with a bit more accuracy, then we can score points.
“It’s an opportunity for us to go out there and go after teams.
“I asked the group to take the shackles off this week because we looked like we were playing within ourselves.
Dragons celebrated a first win at Rodney Parade for more than a year by beating 14-man Ospreys in the United Rugby Championship
Match Report #BBCRugby
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) November 19, 2023
“I told them to ignore results. Let everyone else talk about that. We had a great meeting with the leadership group and players about the process and I was proud of that tonight.
“Winning is a habit and is so losing. The boys wanted to express themselves and get a good result.”
The Ospreys were left to rue two moments of stupidity from their wings.
First, left wing Mat Protheroe was red carded for a head high tackle on Dragons outside half Will Reed, then fellow wing Luke Morgan was yellow carded for a tip tackle on opposite number Rio Dyer.
Protheroe’s was one of those tackles which was not malicious, but was more than careless as well, following up a kick ahead and going in high on Dragons outside half Will Reed.
In contrast Dragons wing Rio Dyer targeted the lower half of the body with his tackles and his pace caused constant problems for the visitors, scoring one try and creating what should have been another.
The Dragons’ other try came from hooker Bradley Roberts, while Protheroe crossed for the Ospreys and Cai Evans kicked 10 points for the hosts.
Lock Matthew Screech hit another milestone in yesterday’s victory over the @ospreys, moving into joint third on the Dragons all-time appearance list, equalling former fly half Jason Tovey on 178! #WeAreGwentRugby pic.twitter.com/85775eAq8z
— Dragons RFC (@dragonsrugby) November 19, 2023
Ospreys head coach Toby Booth: “It was a really difficult evening. We started well and scored first but it unravelled pretty quickly after that.
“We have no qualms about the red card. You have to be in control and protect the catcher.
“We can’t hang around because we have another Welsh derby against Scarlets next weekend and that might come at a good time for us.”
The row between Canadian Baugh and Whitehouse came when the Dragons’ former Cardiff star was on the field handing out drinks bottles to his players.
Whitehouse took objection to Baugh’s shouting at the official and the confrontation escalated when Baugh put his hand on the referee’s shoulder as Whitehouse turned to walk away.
— James Lumber (@Tafftastic) November 18, 2023
Whitehouse then said to the official on the sidelines: “This man stays off the field from now on. He does not come on the field again, Dan Baugh. Thank you.”
After going through the process for Protheroe’s red card, Whitehouse clarified what he wanted to happen before the game restarted.
“Can you just make sure that the team manager does not let that man back on the field, thank you,” he said. “We will speak about it after the game.”
Flanagan added: “I was up in the gantry trying to figure things out and all I heard was that Dan couldn’t come back onto the field.
“I will look into it and try to speak to Ben.”