An understrength Connacht Eagles team suffered a 34-10 defeat to the Dragons Premiership Select in very wet conditions at the Sportsground.
It was a difficult start to the British & Irish Cup for the Connacht youngsters, who only had five starters retained from their recent 43-24 win over Leinster 'A' at Donnybrook. A number of Eagles regulars were away with the senior side in Siberia.
Out-half Conor McKeon stepped in as captain, Ciaran Gaffney and Ed O'Keeffe featured in the back-line and prop Saba Meunargia and lock Cian Romaine continued in their positions up front.
The newly-formed Dragons Premiership Select took advantage of the westerners' inexperience, dominating the set piece exchanges with two tries scored inside the opening quarter. They were 24-0 to the good by half-time, with the Eagles left to rue a series of handling errors and turnovers.
Following an Angus O'Brien penalty in the third minute, the Welshmen pressed from a powerful rolling maul and scrum half Luc Jones sniped through to send supporting centre Adam Jones in under the posts.
O'Brien converted and also added the extras to his half-back partner Luc Jones' try in the 19th minute, with Harri Keddie and Aaron Warren combining to good effect in the build-up.
Using their scrum again as an attacking platform and with Eagles flanker Rory Moloney in the sin-bin, the Dragons Premiership Select drove the home side backwards to earn a penalty try which O'Brien converted.
Nigel Carolan's charges made some improvements before the interval, forcing a run of penalties as they tried to break down the Dragons' determined defence. The visitors' indiscipline led to number 10 O'Brien seeing yellow.
Into the second period, skipper McKeon opened the Eagles' account with a penalty before Dragons full-back Geraint Rhys Jones replied off the kicking tee. Conditions worsened and Connacht fell further behind when flanker James Benjamin blocked a clearance kick, hacked through and speedy winger Elliot Frewen won the race to touch down.
The Eagles battled on and deservedly got a consolation try two minutes from the end. Young tighthead Meunargia barged his way over from close range with McKeon's replacement Aidan Moynihan tagging on the conversion.
Giving his reaction afterwards, Connacht Eagles head coach Carolan said: “It was a difficult day. Dealing with the conditions it doesn't suit either team. We are not making an excuse for the players we had, they are the players available.
“In the first half it was most disappointing, we gifted them three tries through our own turnovers. We spoke about minimising the risks and it shows mistakes are so costly for young fellas playing at this level.”
Referee: Matthew O'Grady (England)