Dragons relish clash with high-tempo Glasgow in last 16 of Challenge Cup

TOUGH: Rio Dyer on the run for the Dragons in Glasgow last season <i>(Image: Huw Evans Agency)</i>
TOUGH: Rio Dyer on the run for the Dragons in Glasgow last season (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

DRAGONS boss Dai Flanagan believes a trip to Glasgow in the Challenge Cup will be every bit as tough as travelling to the cauldron of top seeds Toulon.

The Rodney Parade region will head to Scotland in the last 16 of the tournament after failing to earn a home tie by beating the Lions.

The Dragons fought back from 30-5 down but fell agonisingly short at 30-25 after blowing a last-gasp opportunity in the 22.

The two bonus points secured qualification they waited for the result of the Cheetahs’ clash with Pau to find out if their destination was Glasgow or Toulon.

The South Africans edged to a 9-6 win, meaning that it will be Scotstoun Stadium on the first weekend of April.

Win that and they would play either the Lions or Racing 92 in the quarter-finals.

South Wales Argus: Dragons boss Dai Flanagan
South Wales Argus: Dragons boss Dai Flanagan

Dragons boss Dai Flanagan (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“Glasgow will be just as tough as Toulon would have been. We play them on Saturday and have been doing a bit of preparation on them and they play at high speed with a high ball in play time,” said Flanagan.

“They are high tempo on their [artificial] track and we saw against the Lions that if you can control the speed of ball then you can express yourself.”

The Dragons paid the price for an awful first half against the Lions in a game moved to their Ystrad Mynach training base because of a frozen pitch at Rodney Parade.

They fought back with tries by prop Aki Seiuli, full-back Jordan Williams and wing Rio Dyer to add to fly-half Will Reed's effort in the first half.

“We can’t keep giving ourselves 20 points to chase down. As good as the effort was at the end, and the character was unbelievable, we need to get better,” said Flanagan.

“Physically and emotionally, we were nowhere near ready and we lost yards in both attack and defence.

“The loss of Ross Moriarty [to concussion after four minutes] probably affected that, because whenever we need to go forward and to have momentum swings we look to him.

“But we had internationals spread all over the field and some of the best pros in Wales, the ability to pull it back was great but we’ve got to be better at not letting it get away from us."

A major positive on a frustrating afternoon was the return of Wales tighthead Leon Brown after nine months on the sidelines with a neck injury.

The prop will link up with Wales for the Six Nations tomorrow after an impressive 35-minute display off the bench.

“The bench was superb and it was great having Leon Brown back with the amount of touches he had – you could see he is a Test player and it’s no surprise that Warren Gatland has picked him for the Six Nations,” said Flanagan.

“He has been training for a long time at that intensity, it’s just that as scrummaging and the maul he was getting a little bit of pain.

“Physically he hasn’t dropped off and his scrummaging was excellent against the Lions, with a try scored off the back of that effort.

“Wales under Warren Gatland will definitely train at an intensity that will prepare him for international rugby and if there is one guy that is made physically for international rugby then it’s Leon.

“We have been back and fore with the Welsh Rugby Union and everybody knew when he was available. If Leon Brown is fit then why not select him?”

The Dragons will hope that Wales release the prop for more minutes when they host Glasgow in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday.