Boss Dean Ryan admitted a lack of a finishing touch had hurt Dragons as they lost out 42-14 to French powerhouse Castres in the European Challenge Cup in France.
Dragons created plenty of first half chances at Stade Pierre Fabre but a late brace from wing Jared Rosser was all they had to show for their efforts.
The result sent Castres top of Pool 1 on 18 points – three ahead of Dragons and Worcester Warriors – before the final round of pool games next Friday night.
Ryan’s men will welcome Enisei-STM to Rodney Parade (kick-off 8pm) as they hunt maximum points.
And the Director of Dragons Rugby was remaining upbeat and insisted his team would simple focus on the task ahead of them.
“We are at home and there is lots for Castres to do,” said Ryan. “Last rounds of Europe are strange things and anything can happen.
“We knew that if we couldn’t win in Castres we would lose control, so now we just have to control what we can against Enisei.
“It was a hell of a challenge here,” he added. “In that first 30 or 40 minutes we had some moments that we needed to nail down against a fully-loaded Castres side in front of their own crowd.
“We knew that it was going to be difficult to hold them in the drive but we also knew that if we kept the pace high we would get chances. The risk of keeping the pace high is that you make errors.
“But you can’t come to Castres and stay in an arm wrestle when you are giving three stone a man away.
“The first 40 minutes had everything other than us getting over the line, then that made us look for stuff that wasn’t there in the second half.
“I can’t speak highly enough of my own team because they gave it everything they could out there, even in the last minute they were still giving it everything in a game they couldn’t win.”
Dragons were dealt a blow before kick-off with centre Adam Warren forced out of the game with a severe nosebleed and replaced by Jack Dixon.
And Ryan admitted the strength in depth – the average age of the replacements bench was 22 – was hurting his team.
“The Dragons have a very young and thin squad,” said Ryan. “We’ve had a hectic period and that is hurting us a bit.
“This was a huge contest and full credit to Castres because some of the stuff that they did was outstanding.
“Sometimes you’ve got to accept that people play differently and you have to respect the way that they play the game.
“That’s probably as physical a game as we have played this season, so we have got some bruised bodies.”
Can Dragons make the knockout stages in Europe? Find out when we face Enisei-STM in the final pool game of the European Challenge Cup at Rodney Parade on Friday, January 17 (kick-off 8pm). Click HERE to buy tickets or call the Ticket Office on 01633 674990.
We are at home and there is lots for Castres to do... Last rounds of Europe are strange things and anything can happen...