The shackles came off as Dragons RFC ended their long wait for a win at Rodney Parade with a 20-5 Welsh derby victory over the Ospreys.
It was a first win at their Newport home since October 2022 and a first success in the URC this season after four defeats.
Head coach Dai Flanagan said:
“I am really proud of the group. We spoke pre-match about just taking our shackles off.
“We had felt the heat of results and we looked like we were playing within ourselves.
“You talk about pressure and the players read everything that is said. It’s naïve to think they don’t.
“I just told them to ignore results and let everyone else talk about that.
“I was really pleased with how we performed out there. We threw the ball around and dominated with our speed and tempo. We want to play that way. That needs to become our DNA.
“I thought our defence was superb as well. We stuck in collisions, filled the field, and took the space. This can spring us forward now.”
Skipper Rhodri Williams echoed his coach, saying: “We spoke before the game about playing our way, being ourselves, and throwing it about. It was an overall great team performance.”
The Dragons fell behind early on, with Mat Protheroe touching down for the Ospreys, but the winger then went from hero to villain as he was red-carded for head-on-head contact with fly-half Will Reed on 28 minutes.
Capitalising on their extra man, the hosts established a 13-5 half-time lead with hooker Bradley Roberts storming over from 30 metres out.
Then, when the Ospreys were reduced to 13 men following a yellow card for their other wing Luke Morgan, the Dragons exploited the space out wide by sending Rio Dyer scorching down the touchline for a try.
The Player of the Match award went to their full-back Cai Evans, who landed four successful kicks at goal and was a constant threat when entering the line, as demonstrated by his scoring pass for Wales wing Dyer.