Dragons RFC centre Steff Hughes admitted that the Welsh region were left wondering what might have been, after a 30-25 home loss to Emirates Lions in Round 4 of the EPCR Challenge condemned them to an away tie in the Round of 16.

Dragons will travel to United Rugby Championship rivals Glasgow Warriors in the first of the knockout stages, having finished fifth in Pool B.

“It was important to qualify, that was the main objective, but we would have wanted to win and play at home,” Hughes said.

Dragons were left to rue a poor first-half display at Ystrad Mynach last Sunday, when their South African visitors stormed into a 27-5 interval lead – which left the home side too much to do despite a fabulous comeback.

“The first half we weren’t physical enough, didn’t win collisions, and it was hard to get into the game from an attacking perspective,” Hughes said. “Our discipline was poor as well and we gave Lions easy points.

“Contrastingly, in the second half I thought we were excellent, the way we played, the way we attacked. We caused them a lot of problems, the collisions we won, and we were on the right side of the penalty count.

“The impact the bench made was excellent and we could and should have won it. It’s an opportunity gone again.”

Hughes believes Dragons need to be more consistent if they want to make further progress in the competition.

“We’re growing as a group when you look at how well we played in that second half,” he added. “We’ve made big strides, had some great results and performances.

“The next layer of growth is to be able to execute and put in an 80-minute performance against a great team and get a good result.

“A lot of that comes down to mindset and how we grow that, the confidence and ability for us to play against the best teams and win.”