Jonathan Humphreys reflects on a disappointing evening at Rodney Parade.
Speaking to the press post-match, he said:
“We are disappointed with our performance, there is no hiding that fact. We are disappointed with the unforced errors. We created a lot of chances to score tries despite our lack of territory but there were too many costly errors. Don’t take anything away from the Dragons though, I thought they were outstanding tonight.
“They were very worthy winners. They played the way that we wanted to play the game, the way we had talked about and prepared for. They played good field position and they were very aggressive in defence. We knew we’d have to earn any victory here. Our preparation this week was all about getting territory, about using our set piece well, but we didn’t do that. We didn’t get any set piece possession in their half, so therefore, we were constantly trying to get out of our own half. I thought Jason Tovey was outstanding for them; he controlled the game marvellously and was a big plus for the Dragons.
“But, we are where we feared we would be tonight, our first game back together as a group in two months. That’s why we picked our strongest side, because these next few weeks are huge for us. We wanted to pick our strongest possible squad to come here, simply because we know from our history that the boys go away on international campaigns and when they come back it takes time for them to settle in. That Leicester game was a long, long way away. It was nine weeks ago, nine weeks where this group hadn’t trained or played together, working on our game plan. We’ve had one 80 minutes against a very committed team in a huge local derby, and it was always going to be difficult, whatever fifteen had been picked. But we knew that we have to select our strongest line-up as we don’t have that much time to get our game, our pattern, back.
“It’s difficult in the aftermath of a very disappointing performance, but we know where we want to go as a group. We’ve talked about getting back to our way of playing, about really putting a lot of detail into our game and we obviously didn’t have that detail tonight. That’s where the unforced errors came from, and that’s why we looked slipshod out there. We couldn’t get into a way of playing that we wanted to, we weren’t on the front foot for large parts of the game. We’d talked about territory, well, we didn’t have any territory. We didn’t have an attacking line-out in their half until the 65th minute.
“We’re a team that is packed full of quality and nine weeks ago we were playing some quality rugby. These boys know the game we want to play and I’m sure that after this week, we can get back somewhere near to where we need to be. The positive that we can take from the game is that we got a valuable 80 minutes back together
“It’s an angry dressing room at the moment. They are angry with their errors, angry at the way the game went, and angry that the things we wanted to do didn’t happen. A large part of that is down to the Dragons, but large parts of that were certainly down to us. We’ve got a lot on our plate now when it comes to the Magners League, to get into that top four we’ve got to go to some pretty difficult places and get some results now, but that’s the challenge, and with this under our belts we have to focus on a game at the Liberty Stadium against the Scarlets next Friday, so it won’t get any easier.”