8:01am Monday 16th September 2013
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons head coach Darren Edwards has called on his charges to maintain their upward curve when they welcome the Scarlets to Rodney Parade on Friday.
The Dragons suffered an agonising RaboDirect Pro12 defeat with the last kick of the game against Edinburgh at Murrayfield last weekend.
With the scores locked at 13-13, home fly-half Harry Leonard bisected the posts with a penalty to inflict a first defeat of the season.
It meant the Dragons had to settle for a losing bonus point despite Edwards believing they improved on the performance that earned four against Ulster on opening weekend.
"It was a close game and our players took another step forward," said the head coach, who took the helm with forwards coach Kingsley Jones at Edinburgh in the absence of director of rugby Lyn Jones, who didn't travel to Scotland because of illness.
"The boys really responded to going 13-3 early in the second half and not only gave themselves the chance of a draw but got in a position to go for a win.
"We've come away with a bonus point, two would have been even better but at least we have kept ticking along.
"It was important that we build on Ulster and we did. Now it's vital that we take another step forward against the Scarlets."
The Dragons crossed for their first try of the season at Murrayfield when scrum-half Richie Rees sniped over but, just like against Ulster, it was their determination in defence that stood out.
Edwards insists there were signs of their attacking game sparking into life, particularly with dynamic back row forwards Toby Faletau and Netani Talei in their ranks.
"There were some flashes of individual excellence out there and this team has a lot of room for growth, which gives real reason to be positive," he said.
"We will start to be a lot more threatening as we put more work into our attack and we have some real weapons to cause trouble.
"Talei and Toby have only had limited training time and had to dig deep because they are way behind the rest of the boys in terms of conditioning (after joining up late because of summer Test commitments with Fiji and the Lions respectively).
"It was a first run out for both of them and they will be better for that."
The pair linked up with Lewis Evans in the back row after an injury to openside Nic Cudd, who was forced off with an injury to his right shoulder after being the recipient of a high tackle in the 10th minute. He looks unlikely to feature against the Scarlets, his former region, on Friday.
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