Andrew Coombs: Dragons have been better than the table suggests
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons captain Andrew Coombs believes the RaboDirect Pro12 table DOES lie and insists their lowly placing doesn't reflect the strides made by the region this season.
The Dragons welcome Treviso to Rodney Parade for the last game of the campaign on Saturday evening (kick-off 6.30pm) and victory could lift them a place to ninth.
But if the Italians, who thumped them 45-27 last month, emerge victorious then they will condemn Lyn Jones' side to a second successive 11th place finish.
Worse still, if that is combined with Zebre, who are motivated by the carrot of a place in the Rugby Champions Cup, pull off an almighty surprise by beating title hopefuls Glasgow on their own patch then the Dragons will be bottom of the pile.
Things were much brighter on Boxing Day when the Dragons sat in the top half but 2014 has yielded just one league win.
"We are disappointed with how things have gone because we were in a really good place at the start of the year," said lock Coombs.
"I don't think we deserve to be where we are in the table but it has been a difficult few months we just haven't picked up the wins we have needed to.
"We have played some fantastic rugby at times this season and are a bit unlucky to be where we are, but that's credit to how competitive this league is.
"Unfortunately we have slipped down the table but we can't blame anyone but ourselves; we just haven't been good enough in the second half of the season."
Coombs does believe the tenacious displays before the turn of the year provide reason for optimism, as do the seven signings (full-back Lee Byrne, wing Aled Brew, locks Ian Gough and Ligtoring Landman, props Boris Stankovich and Dave Young and hooker Rhys Buckley) made by director of rugby Lyn Jones.
"There are lots of positives to take from the first half of the season and we will be boosted by some quality players coming in," said Coombs.
"It's all about building for next season. But we've got one game left and are targeting a big win to give a good send-off to the boys that are leaving."
It has been another disappointing season for the Dragons but it has been slight improvement on 2012/13.
Their tally of 31 points is better than last year's 28 while they will have won a game more if they can turn over Treviso for a seventh success. They have scored more tries (32 to 31) and shipped fewer (44 to 72).