Head Coach Dai Flanagan admitted his Dragons must stop giving teams a big head start after a thrilling comeback fell just short against Emirates Lions.
The Men of Gwent were facing a heavy defeat at Ystrad Mynach after the South Africans powered to a 30-5 lead just after the break.
But 20 unanswered points in a stunning second half saw Dragons push for an unlikely win in the closing stages before just missing out.
Two bonus points ensured qualification for the knockout stages and an away trip in the last 16 of the competition.
But it left Flanagan to reflect on a game of two distinctive halves.
“We can’t keep giving ourselves 20 points to chase teams," said the Head Coach.
"As good as the effort was at the end, and the character was unbelievable, we need to get better
“Physically and emotionally, we were nowhere near ready and we lost yards in both attack and defence.
“The loss of Ross Moriarty probably affected that, because whenever we need to go forward and to have momentum swings we look to him.
“But we had internationals spread all over the field and some of the best pros in Wales, the ability to pull it back was great but we’ve got to be better at not letting it get away from us.
“It’s frustrating because we are doing so much well but we have to be better and we have to learn to win.
“The style of play is good to watch, moving the ball and with an accurate kicking game – we are seeing space and hitting space – but the toughest thing is learning to win.
“The more experience a group becomes, the better they are at controlling momentum. We are an inexperienced group, not age-wise but game-wise, and we need to be better at that.”
The comeback was inspired by a power-packed display from the bench with Wales international Leon Brown among those to impress.
“The replacements were superb,” added Flanagan. “It was good having Leon Brown back and how good was he?
“He has been training for a long time at that intensity, it’s just that as scrummaging and the maul he was getting a little bit of pain.
“Physically he hasn’t dropped off and his scrummaging was excellent against the Lions, with a try scored off the back of that effort.
“Wales under Warren Gatland will definitely train at an intensity that will prepare him for international rugby and if there is one guy that is made physically for international rugby then it’s Leon.
“We have been back and fore with the Welsh Rugby Union and everybody knew when he was available. If Leon Brown is fit then why not select him?”
There was contrasting fortunes for back row Ross Moriarty who saw his 50th appearance only last six minutes before he was forced off.
“Ross split his ear wide open and has stitches. We will look after him and he will go through the protocols now,” added Flanagan.
“It was a shame for him. He has been excellent this week and we were all disappointed for him this week over Wales.”
Dragons now await the final pool games to see where they will travel in the final 16.
“We’re in the next round which is important,” said Flanagan.
“Last week we were better away, we found a better way of connecting on the road. Mentally and physically, we turned up that day.
“It will be good for us being away again. I would have been better at Rodney Parade, but it will be good in the long-term for us.”
As good as we played at the end, and the effort and character was unbelievable, it’s about how we get better...