THE Dragons lost 34-28 to Worcester in the European Challenge Cup yesterday. Here are the talking points from the clash at Sixways…


The game was shaped by Taine Basham’s controversial red card in the opening quarter, a dismissal that left the Dragons up against it.

The 20-year-old back row forward was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Gareth Simpson and the decision infuriated his boss Dean Ryan.

READ MORE: Ryan slams red card decision

It was an incident that could prompt the clichés ‘I’ve seen them given’ or ‘he gave the referee a decision to make’.

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It was undoubtedly clumsy and a little rash by Basham; the talented back rower will learn from the experience.

At the time I thought it was just a big tackle that went slightly wrong – penalty would suffice. I would have shrugged had a yellow been shown but never though Marius Mitrea would reach for his red.

I would imagine that the Italian official will be backed up by this week’s disciplinary hearing yet it was a decision that was strange given the lack of a television match official.

In such circumstances referees usually err on the side of caution yet Mitrea was evidently sure that he had seen serious foul play.

It was a big call and one that I (granted, with Gwent bias) believe was the wrong one.


The Dragons were leading 7-3 when they were reduced to 14 men yet were never put under sustained pressure.

They were organised in defence, played with intelligence and kept their cool. Their toys didn’t get chucked out of the pram despite their frustration at several decisions.

Even when Worcester scored their fourth to go out of bonus-point range the Dragons responded excellently to ensure that they left with something despite being outnumbered for an hour.

READ THE MATCH REPORT: Worcester 34 Dragons 28

Sam Davies’ audacious chip and calm assist for Luke Baldwin could be massive come round six of the group.


The Dragons played for three quarters of the game with a seven-man pack yet they were never under the pump at the scrum.

The Rodney Parade region are at the bottom of the charts for scrum success in the Guinness PRO14 but that stat doesn’t tell the story of the campaign.

Wales tighthead Leon Brown has made strides in the set piece, more often than not alongside Brok Harris and Richard Hibbard.

The trio performed excellently in that department against Worcester with locks Joe Davies and Matthew Screech providing the grunt behind.

Being down to 14 would have been terminal had the Dragons been creaking at the scrum yet the starters plus Aaron Jarvis, Elliot Dee, Max Williams and Josh Reynolds did their job.

That would have earned a slap on the back from forwards coach Ceri Jones on his return to Sixways.


Yesterday was an opportunity missed – with 15 on the field the Dragons could very well have left Sixways with three more precious points against a much-changed Worcester.

However, they are still top of Pool One at the halfway stage and two more wins should hopefully be enough to make it to the quarter-finals.

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All three teams should get five points from home meetings with Enisei-STM.

With the Dragons having a one-point lead over Worcester and a three-point advantage over Castres, a win against the Warriors at Rodney Parade is likely to be enough to at least secure a runners-up berth.

Whatever happens, Ryan’s team will head into January with their destiny in their own hands.