THE Dragons showed determination in defence in their festive derbies but livewire back rower James Benjamin wants to show more threat with ball in hand, starting against minnows Timisoara Saracens on Friday.

The Rodney Parade region enjoyed a solid block against their Welsh rivals in the Guinness PRO14.

They battled hard at Cardiff Blues when denied a draw with the last kick after playing for an hour with 14 men, ended their four-year derby drought against the Ospreys then scrapped against the Scarlets in Saturday's 22-13 loss in Llanelli.

The Dragons have a woeful defensive record in the PRO14 this season but progress was made in the derbies.

"The performances have been really good and our defence has been the standout for us," said Benjamin.

"It's not a one or two-week thing, it will take longer than that, but it's important that we mirror what the other teams in Wales are doing now by getting off the line fast with even spaces to put the attack under pressure and get the ball back as soon as possible."

Benjamin came off the bench to score a consolation in Llanelli courtesy of slick offloads by centre Jack Dixon and wing Adam Warren.

While the Dragons have been solid in defence of late, they've also crossed just four times with the need to show more of a cutting edge in the second half of the season.

"In attack we are trying to keep improving each week because we are creating some really good pictures, we just have to take those chances," said the 24-year-old from Rogerstone.

"The space is there and against the Scarlets if we had kept hold of the ball a bit more then the score might have been different. We are moving forward nicely."

The Dragons should get the chance to make strides against Timisoara in the European Challenge Cup on Friday.

They ran out 54-17 winners when the sides met in Romania in October and will expect to at least match the eight tries they scored at Dan Paltinisanu Stadium.

"The boys will be excited to get out there and express ourselves in attack to try and get some tries on the board on our own patch," said Benjamin.

"It will still be a tough game and Timisoara are a good team, so our set piece will definitely have to improve, but we are confident that we can impress.

"We cannot underestimate them because they have a strong pack and when we went away to them they came off the line similar to what we are trying to do.

"They put pressure on our attack and scored two interception tries from their defence, so we will have to think of some plays."

With qualification hopes dashed by a double defeat to Northampton and loss at Clermont Auvergne, the Dragons are set to ring the changes for the encounter with the Romanians.

Benjamin made 24 appearances last season but is yet to start in the current campaign, although he has recently come back into the fray.

The Wales 7s international, who played centre for the A team in the Celtic Cup, has come off the bench in four of the last five games.

"There's been so many good performances from the whole of the pack over the past couple of weeks," said Benjamin.

"That's tough on the body so Ceri (Jones, caretaker coach) might make changes and give some of us boys who are chomping at the bit a game and a chance to put in a performance.

"I've been trying to knuckle down to get back in the team so have to take every opportunity but it's hard when the back row are standing out every week, I can't commend them enough.

"The competition in training is good and it's not just me, Nic Cudd, Huw Taylor and so many other players are chomping at the bit this week to put their hand up for selection."

Clermont and Northampton are both set to progress from Pool One regardless of the result when they meet in France on Saturday.

The Top 14 giants are already on 20 points and are set for top spot while the Saints are on 15 and have Timisoara at Franklin's Gardens to finish, which should earn one of the best runners-up berths in the quarter-finals.