BERNARD Jackman is confident the Dragons will reap the rewards of a brutal pre-season that pits them against a quintet of Champions Cup sides, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Rodney Parade region spread themselves too thin by playing Montpellier on Friday evening, losing 40-15 in Aveyron at the end of a week-long training camp, and Northampton on Saturday, shipping 11 tries in a 71-21 defeat at Franklin's Gardens.

In midweek head coach Jackman expressed his fears about the double-header, which forced him to split his squad up and give players more minutes than he ideally would.

But he believes going up against four Champions Cup teams in Montpellier, Northampton, Exeter and Glasgow in friendlies, plus another in Bath in a training this week, will set the Dragons up nicely for their Guinness PRO14 opener against Leinster at Rodney Parade on Saturday, September 2.

"We had a great week [in France] but you don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out that you wouldn't start your pre-season with Montpellier on a Friday night in France and Northampton away on the Saturday," said Jackman, who handed the reins to academy manager James Chapron for the Saints clash.

"That's what we inherited and we did our best to manage it. Thankfully we got through both games without any injuries, which is pretty much a miracle because we were up against two big, powerful, physical sides.

"The good thing about this pre-season is that we are not kidding ourselves – we are playing Montpellier away, Northampton away, Exeter away and Glasgow in Ebbw Vale, while we are having an opposed training session with Bath on Tuesday."

The Dragons were given the run around in the last quarter in Northampton with the Saints, who fielded two separate teams, turning a 26-21 lead into a crushing 50-point success.

On Friday a stronger side, minus a handful of seniors sent back to feature in the Midlands, had been outmuscled by Top 14 heavyweights.

"Montpellier was a great opportunity to get some cohesion in the group, just to spend some time together and get to know the players," said Jackman.

"When you are in Ystrad Mynach it is full on but players go home in the afternoon, so it gave the opportunity for a lot of meetings and one-on-ones.

"It was a really good week and Montpellier, who start their Top 14 a week earlier than PRO14, were just a bit more match fit and have a super squad.

"It was very different to Northampton, where we got done a bit for speed and cohesion. Montpellier we got done for pure power and size – the average weight of their forwards was 134kg, which is the biggest pack I've seen.

"They were able to put the squeeze on us up front and punish our errors but we will benefit from that.

"Now we can bring the best players from both games, try to get cohesion and work on combinations [for Exeter]."