DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan revealed he ripped up his plan to bring off Cory Hill on his comeback from a 10-month lay-off because of the Wales' forward's tactical nous in a game of 'chess'.

The 27-year-old made an impressive 80-minute return to action in the region's vital 25-16 European Challenge Cup win against Worcester.

READ MORE: Dragons 25 Worcester 16

Hill had not played since suffering an injury to his left ankle when scoring in the Six Nations win against England in February.

He lined up at blindside but, in a change of strategy, he shifted to his preferred position of lock halfway through the second half with Matthew Screech instead the man to be replaced by back rower Harri Keddie.

"The plan was for him to have 50 minutes but that good plan changed! It was a chess game and Cory is smart and was causing them problems with the drive," said director of rugby Ryan, whose side were level at 16-16 with half an hour left and 19-16 up when Keddie came on for Screech.

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"I didn't really want to bring Cory off and it wasn't a big running game, so I just thought we had to play chess for longer. He has experience in Test matches, which a lot of the time are like that.

"It was the right decision, before the game we thought about trying to lift the tempo with Harri Keddie coming on for Cory but once we saw the night's weather I thought about staying a bit longer to see if something came for us.

"The fresh legs off the bench got us a couple of scrum penalties and we got a bit of joy in the drive. I thought that in last 20 minutes we dominated."

READ MORE: The talking points from the win against Worcester

The Dragons started swiftly to take the lead through a well-worked Adam Warren try and it was then all about the unerring left boot of Sam Davies.

The Wales fly-half kicked seven from seven (a conversion and six penalties) with his last effort taking away Worcester's bonus point.

Davies and scrum-half Rhodri Williams controlled the game masterfully in torrential rain, to the delight of Ryan.

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"They are getting better and better. That comes from experiences, no game is the same as another and we have had some tough ones," he said.

"Edinburgh away was a key game because we understood how to compete hard and in other games we have probably played too much, like Munster away.

"They are getting to nights like Friday where they knew what to do in those circumstances, so I am incredibly proud of everybody and it was nice to hear a bit of Rodney Parade noise.

"I am really pleased for the group and for the fans. Hearing the fans at the end was testament to 23 players working really hard because there was not a lot of rugby going on! You can only show effort and show that you care, and we did that really well."

The Dragons' win means they are top of Pool One with remaining fixtures away to Castres, who are two points back, and at home to Enisei-STM.

If they lose in France then five points against the Russians may still be enough to claim group top spot as Castres would need to win at Worcester.

The Dragons will finish above the Warriors as long as they beat Enisei with a bonus because they win the head-to-head with the English side.

Both clubs claimed five match points from the December double-header but Ryan's men have the best aggregate points difference of +3 courtesy of avenging their 34-28 defeat with a 25-16 win.

"You can only ask for control in Europe, you can't ask for clean sweeps. The third and fourth rounds are crucial and we talked a lot about seeing this as a two-leg game rather than a one-off," said Ryan.

"Sometimes getting out with a bonus point is crucial and not giving them one on Friday was crucial, it gives us a significant jump on them. It gives us control but there are still two rounds to go."