Dragons RFC were beaten 27-21 by Section Paloise in a thrilling EPCR Challenge Cup contest at Rodney Parade.
Pau kept their qualification hopes alive with the victory, having lost to Toyota Cheetahs in Round 1, while defeat for Dragons leaves them still hunting a first win in the competition after their opening two games.
Dragons started the brighter, with Sam Davies kicking three penalties in reply to one from Pau’s Clovis Lebail.
Bradley Roberts got Dragons’ first try of the evening, but the visitors came roaring back in the last minutes of the half, with a try from Thomas Carol and a late penalty taking them into the break just one point adrift.
And despite Roberts crossing for another on the hour mark, Pau would take the lead for the first time with less than 15 minutes to go, wing Eoghan Barrett crossing the line in a crucial moment for the visitors.
In the final play of the game, Dragons thought Max Clark had scored a try that would have brought them back within one point, with a conversion opportunity to follow in front of the posts – but after lengthy deliberation, the referee adjudged it as short of the line.
The two sides go head-to-head again in Round 3 as Dragons head to the Stade du Hameau on January 13.