WALES lock Cory Hill is confident that the Dragons are "building something special" as they hunt a place in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup.

The Rodney Parade region will earn a place in the last eight as long as they don't fluff their lines against Enisei-STM in Newport on Friday (kick-off 8pm).

Toulon's victory against the Scarlets on Saturday evening means that the Dragons will qualify for the knockout stages with a bonus point win against the Russian minnows, either as Pool One winners if Castres lose at Worcester or one of three best runners-up if the French side win at Sixways.

The Dragons were given a 42-14 hammering at the Stade Pierre-Fabre on Saturday after being overpowered by the 2018 Top 14 champions.

However, after an encouraging festive period that featured wins against the Scarlets and Ospreys either side of a narrow loss to Cardiff Blues, Hill insists the heavy loss hasn't dented confidence.

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"We are building something pretty special, everyone is positive," said the Wales lock, who is out of contract at the end of the season and is negotiating with the Welsh Rugby Union as one of 38 elite Test players.

"We had good experiences over the Christmas derbies and the young boys are learning fast and gaining great experience from cup ties like Castres and those league games.

"Sometimes you are on the back end of a loss, sometimes you are on the right end with victories, sometimes you have to hold your hand up and say you weren't good enough.

"We knew that it was going to be a tough challenge against a quality French outfit. We probably didn't manage the game how we wanted in the first half, we left a lot of chances out there which could have swung the game.

"That got the crowd behind them, the drums were going and they got on top. We were faced with a difficult challenge in the second half but there were positives, we will learn from it and go full-hit ready for Enisei."

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Hill, who started at blindside rather than his preferred lock, knows that Dean Ryan's men will face another stern test up front against the confrontational Russians in Newport.

"It's another big pack and we will tighten up in our maul defence, because we probably lacked a bit in that area against Castres," said the 27-year-old, who played in the 2016 defeat to Enisei in Krasnodar.

"We have things to work on and know what they will bring, but hopefully we can implement our gameplan and go for it. We need maximum points and will go for it.

"We can't look anywhere else, we just need a good week in training and hopefully come away with maximum points. We are looking forward to getting back to Rodney Parade and putting it all out there to qualify."

Hill returned against Worcester in December after being sidelined since suffering an ankle injury when scoring the crucial try in Wales' Six Nations win against England last February.

"I'm just excited to be playing. It's nice to be back after 10 months out, it was a long time and it's lovely to be out there with the boys and playing some decent rugby," he said.

"The first half was probably the best rugby that we've played all season and if one or two of those chances were converted, and if we'd been a little bit more accurate, then we would have been in the game. Hopefully we can build on that and kick on for this week."

And Hill is enjoying being back in the thick of things, whether as a lock or a makeshift flanker.

"I played there last year and against big packs it adds to our lineout. It's great for me in that I get my hands on the ball and I probably play a bit looser," he said.

"I am enjoying it and I am happy to be out there and enjoying my rugby, whether it's 4, 5 or 6 on my back."