Pro12: Dragons had more spark, says Blues boss Hammett

Dragons celebrate
Dragons celebrate their Boxing Day win over Cardiff Blues
Guinness Pro12: Newport Gwent Dragons v Cardiff Blues
Venue: Rodney Parade Date: Friday, 1 January Kick-off: 14:05 GMT
Coverage: Scrum V Live on BBC Two Wales, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and the BBC Sport website

Cardiff Blues boss Mark Hammett says Newport Gwent Dragons had "more spark" and greater "intensity" in his side's 23-17 Boxing Day defeat.

Blues were denied after fighting back from 20-3 down.

"In this weather, when you're chasing down 17-odd points, it's difficult," said Hammett.

Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones says motivation for the return match on New Year's Day lies "with the team that's been defeated".

Hooker Elliott Dee went over for Dragons' opening try and the visitors' impressive forward effort also brought a penalty try.

Blues' tries came from Jarrad Hoeata and Tavis Knoyle, but Dragons held them out.

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Dragons captain Rynard Landman is delighted with his side's Pro12 Welsh derby win over Cardiff Blues.

The hosts went into the game having dominated and beaten Scarlets on 20 December.

Hammett said: "If last week's first half was the best half of rugby we've put together, I think, probably, that first half [against Dragons] was our worst."

He added that his side's support play was deficient in that opening period and Dragons took full advantage.

"Attitude is often the thing that wins these matches and without a doubt, collectively, they turned up with a wee-bit more spark and a wee bit more intensity to their game," said Hammett.

"They ended up playing some good territory because of either our knock-ons or just the intensity they put into those contact areas.

"I thought certainly in the first half our support on our runners was slow, mixed with their good work in the jackal area.

19 December: Blues 21-9 Scarlets
Boxing Day: Blues 17-23 Dragons
27 December: Ospreys v Scarlets
New Year's Day: Dragons v Blues
3 January: Scarlets v Ospreys

"You saw in the second half when we got that area right, we were a danger.

"But in this weather, when you're chasing down 17-odd points, it's difficult.

"We nearly got there. However, we didn't and you can talk about attitude all you want - it's a personal thing and you need to roll your sleeves up.

"And it's a pretty down group in the sheds, as we should be.

"But we've got a game in six days back there [Rodney Parade], which probably makes it tougher and we need to do ourselves a lot more proud than we did this week."

It was only Dragons' second win over Blues in Cardiff since the 2003 launch of Welsh regional rugby.

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Blues captain Matthew Rees reflects on his team's 23-17 defeat by Dragons at Cardiff Arms Park on Boxing Day.

Dragons director of rugby Jones said: "Records are there to be broken and we were confident coming here that we could do a job on the Blues.

"We've played particularly well since we've had a few boys back from injury and we've built momentum."

Jones says his squad has "traditionally lacked a little bit of confidence", but the introduction of new players has begun to improve their prospects.

"With that confidence, etcetera, people can play and that's what we are trying to do," said Jones.

"And today was another step of reassurance that what we're doing is the right thing.

"We've just got to enjoy it for what it is because next week, we do it all again at Rodney Parade.

"And on back-to-back matches, as we experienced in European rugby, the motivation lies now with the team that's been defeated and the Blues will come back a little hungrier, but that's what it's about.

"We're generally pleased, but let's see what happens next week."

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