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Roberts calls for clinical Dragons show

17/01/2022

Centre Jamie Roberts has called for a clinical Dragons display after being left frustrated by the European Challenge Cup loss to Benetton at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo.

Dragons went into the contest searching for their first European victory of the campaign and led 9-8 heading into half time thanks to three Sam Davies penalties.

The visitors had opportunities to extend their lead inside opposition territory, but couldn’t quite cross the whitewash with errors at crucial moments.

Benetton took advantage and managed two second half tries to seal victory at home in Treviso and keep their qualifications hopes alive.

Dragons now face the same opposition on home soil in the United Rugby Championship and Roberts demands a more clinical performance from the Men of Gwent as they look for revenge against the Italian opposition.

“I think we played some good rugby in the first half, we were accurate and we built pressure and scored points off that pressure,” said the former Welsh international.

“But it was the complete opposite in the second half, we applied pressure but just missed our opportunities.

"We missed a couple of line out opportunities five metres out, we worked so hard to build that pressure and then, bang, we release it and unfortunately it has been a bit of a pattern for us this season.

He continued: “We are not converting pressure to points when it matters and in games like this against quality opposition like this you’re not going to win games unless you do that. They get one chance five minutes later and seven points so very frustrating.

“I think the contact area killed us as well. Our ability to hold onto the ball and go through phases, playing against a defence coached by Paul Gustard, is always going to be quite aggressive and competitive on the floor and they got the better of us in that second half.”

Despite defeat there were some promising individual performances from the Dragons younsters on show.

Prop Chris Coleman, full back Ioan Davies and Roberts centre partner Aneurin Owen all received plaudits from boss Dean Ryan post-match.

And despite admitting his frustration Roberts believes it’s a good opportunity for the young squad to learn from the mistakes and now grasp the opportunity to put things right against the same opposition on home soil.

“Every loss is a chance to learn isn’t it, especially with the age profile and experience profile of our group. It’s back in Monday, it’s learning how we can do things better and growing the group,” said the 35-year-old.

“It’s always going to be a challenge but these young lads are absorbing information like a sponge so we just need to make sure we are coherent as a group and clinical as a group.

“It is frustrating because you work so hard to build that pressure and then you blow your opportunities - those two or three chances in their 22m are chances to win the game and we didn’t take them.

“You can train those moments all day and get 99% of them right on the training park, but until you’re in the game and there is pressure on you that’s when it counts.. But luckily we have the opportunity now to put things right back at Rodney Parade.”

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