THE Dragons are through to the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup after a nervy night in Newport.

Dean Ryan’s men won 47-5 against Enisei-STM, comfortable enough in the end, but the tension came courtesy of a thriller at Sixways that led to the Rodney Parade region going through to the last eight as one of the best runners-up behind Pool One winners Castres.

They will find out their opponents for the away quarter-final clash tomorrow.

Job number one was to win with a bonus point, which they did after a spluttering first half.

The five-point haul was secured before the hour against the tenacious Russians thanks to scores by Wales number eight Ross Moriarty, wing Jared Rosser, flanker Harri Keddie and centre Tyler Morgan.

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Further tries would come from Adam Warren (2) and Aaron Wainwright but it was a night when the real drama would always be 56 miles north-east in Worcester.

The Dragons were odds-on to do their part with a five-point haul but a freak result at Sixways would deny them qualification for the quarter-finals in the cruellest way.

If the Warriors won with a bonus point but Castres also scored at least four tries and finished within seven points for a pair of consolations then all three teams would finish Pool One on 20 points.

In that scenario the English and French clubs would progress to the last eight, with Castres topping the group, with the Welsh side missing out.

There was a lingering fear of it being a West Midlands equivalent of ‘The Disgrace of Gijon’, when West Germany beat Austria 1-0 in the 1982 World Cup for a result that put both teams through at the expense of Algeria, who headed home on points difference.

That led to frequent checking of social media to see how things were going at Sixways and it was worryingly tight throughout, with tries being scored at regular intervals, but the Dragons just had to do their job with minimal fuss.

Director of rugby Dean Ryan took no risks and selected his first team – aided by a break in the Guinness PRO14 until mid-February – but it wasn’t the one-side romp that had been wished for.

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It took some softening up, a process not helped by the Dragons’ error count and indiscipline in the first half.

In Krasnodar in round two the second string ran in seven tries – although they were level at half-time before stretching away – and the expectation was to better that on a crisp night that meant handling was easier than in the usual Rodney Parade rain.

However, it was a frustrating opening with the tempo far, far slower than the Dragons would have wanted against their hefty visitors.

The settler came in the 12th minute when two penalties were kicked to the corner for Wales number eight Moriarty to score his first try for the region from a driving lineout, fly-half Sam Davies adding the extras.

The home side’s indiscipline was preventing them from building up a head of steam and applying pressure, with the whistle of Irish referee Joy Neville being used far too much for anybody’s liking.

Patience was vital for the Dragons as the clock ticked into the 20s.

Try number two duly came as the half hour approached after a wonderful assist by flanker Keddie, a late inclusion in the XV because Taine Basham was ill.

He charged down the right and conjured a lovely offload to put speedster Rosser under the posts for a seven-pointer.

However, the Russians responded with a try of their own to make it 14-5 after Cory Hill was annoyed to have been penalised by Neville at the breakdown. The lineout in the 22 was won and spun left for a grubber to put wing Bjorn Basson over.

That was how it stayed at the break with the score at Sixways also worrying – Worcester led Castres 20-12 and both teams had crossed for two tries.

The Dragons got a settler soon after the restart when the impressive Keddie picked off a pass, with good hands, to go over from 25 metres with Davies adding the simple extras to make it 21-5.

They piled the pressure on to score the fourth – with Enisei indiscipline leading to a yellow card for centre Dmitri Gerasimov – but it eluded them as the hour approached.

Worcester and Castres had also scored three apiece and the qualification was up in the air.

The Dragons just had to do their job and win with a bonus, and that was achieved in the 57th minute when Davies chipped over the top for replacement centre Morgan to race over, with the try his final action after he suffered a hamstring injury in the process.

Davies converted for 28-5 and attention was now shared between Sixways and Rodney Parade.

The nightmare was happening in Worcester – Castres went over for their fourth try and were 27-26 down, with the Warriors having 10 minutes to score another try.

Back in Newport, the Dragons had lived life dangerously in their own half when exposed by grubber kicks but went over for their fifth in the 70th minute when scrum-half Tavis Knoyle put centre Adam Warren over from close range.

Meanwhile, the Frenchmen had taken command at Sixways but the Dragons were in a perilous situation with Worcester in need of a late converted try.

Back in Newport, Wales flanker Wainwright scorched over for a sixth to make it 40-5 but it didn’t matter, it was all about Sixways – and Castres did their job to top the group and send the Dragons through as well.

Oh, and Warren had the final say with another try at the death.

Dragons: C Penny, J Rosser (T Morgan 40, Botica 59), A Warren, T Griffiths, R Dyer (L Baldwin 60), S Davies, T Knoyle, L Fairbrother (J Reynolds ), E Dee (E Shipp 46), L Brown (C Coleman 75), M Screech, C Hill (captain, J Davies 69), A Wainwright, T Basham, R Moriarty (H Taylor 57).

Scorers: tries – R Moriarty, J Rosser, H Keddie, T Morgan, A Warren (2), A Wainwright; conversions – S Davies (6)

Enisei-STM: Enisei-STM: E Douwrie, D Meskhi, D Kacharava, D Gerasimov, B Basson, R Gaisin, A Shcherban, N Khatiashvili, S Magomedov, I Zykov, U Saulite (captain), E Elgin, M Gachechiladze, A Temnov, D Krotov. Replacements: S Selskii, E Westhuizen, A Musin, J Jordaan, N Churashov, K Uzunov, J Baranovs, V Nemtsev.

Scorers: tries – B Basson

Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland)

Attendance: 4,038

Argus star man: Harri Keddie