Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan was impressed with the composure of his young side as they closed in on the knockout stage of the EPCR Challenge Cup with a 21-15 win at Section Paloise in Round 3 on Friday.
The Welsh region were without a win in Pool B heading into the contest at the Stade du Hameau, but had four points on the board thanks to their 31-31 draw at Emirates Lions in Round 1.
But they are now well-placed to reach the Round of 16 after tries from Ashton Hewitt and Max Clark helped them triumph in the south of France.
“We controlled large parts of that game. We are limiting our errors and becoming tough, so I am really proud of the group,” said Flanagan.
“There are a lot of youngsters on that field at the end of the game. For them to show that composure, to get the three points we needed to get the win, I am super proud of the group.
Round Three ✅
1️⃣ qualification spot left in Pool A, with 5️⃣ teams still in with a shot 👀
Bring on next weekend 🔥#ChallengeCupRugby pic.twitter.com/TzDklEv4HD
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) January 15, 2023
“There are elements we can get better at and that excites me. I never doubted the character [of the team], it was the composure in it to limit our errors and stick to the script.”
Captain Steff Hughes echoed Flanagan’s praise and urged his team to use the win as a springboard heading into their crucial Round 4 clash with Emirates Lions in Newport next Sunday.
“I’m massively proud,” he said. “Coming away from home to a place like Pau, I thought the effort was exceptional and the character we showed in the game.
“There were times where we played some brilliant stuff, times when they were maybe on top, but we dug in and the discipline we had was great.
“A lot of the younger boys had the opportunity off the bench, and they were fantastic. I’m delighted for the whole group.
“We’ve dug in together and we showed against Pau the quality that’s in the group. Hopefully this will kickstart us.”