It may be coming up to Christmas, but it was a lack of cards which was bothering Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill after this narrow defeat on the road.
He felt the pressure his side exerted should have got greater reward with one or two Dragons being sent to the sinbin, but in the end there was some satisfaction at the effort a makeshift pack put in to earn a losing bonus point.
Edinburgh were pushing for more at the end, without quite getting over the line, but it was the card-less period before half-time which most irked Cockerill, pictured. “I’ll look at us and I’ll look at the officiating, the positive side never seems to get the reward,” he said. “We camped for seven or eight minutes getting wall-to-wall penalties with no yellow card and then when we do score it’s a double movement.
“You camp there forever and the referee keeps giving them warnings. That’s what happened. They are big decisions which sway games, everyone should be accountable.
“The Dragons are parading as though they’ve won the Pro 14, they’ve beaten an Edinburgh team with 18 players missing so we’ll take it as a compliment.
“We got a big penalty at the end, driving penalties throughout the game, scrum penalties in that period before half-time, considering there are ten international forwards missing plus injuries, it was a second-stroke-third choice forward pack doing damage tonight so good depth for us.”
Of course, Edinburgh were without pretty much a first-choice pack who had helped Scotland beat Argentina, seven forwards and Blair Kinghorn left behind, while the Dragons were missing four who had been on Wales duty, all forwards.
Then it was one of their former players, stand-off Jason Tovey, who opened the scoring for the home side with a penalty from in front of the posts.
The first try came from some weak tackling in the Edinburgh backs as first outside centre Jamie Johnstone missed Dragons full-back Jordan Williams and then scrum-half Henry Pyrgos could not bring down wing Jared Rosser after he was put clear.
Edinburgh spent the last ten minutes of the half camped in the Dragons 22, turning down several kickable penalties to take the scrum and go for the try.
Centre Chris Dean was denied by the TMO for a double movement in the tackle, but he then made the crucial break and long pass for full back Dougie Fife to cap the last move of the half with a try.
The Dragons came out firing in the second half and dominated possession just as Edinburgh had at the end of the first. Eventually, again, it paid off as Rosser went over in the same corner as Fife, this time after a break by scrum-half Rhodri Williams had tied up the defence.
Edinburgh hit back and scored a slightly strange try through right-wing Darcy Graham. He finished off a good back move but seemed to throw the ball behind him once over the line. TV Replays showed he just grounded the ball first. Jaco van der Walt converted to bring Edinburgh back within a score.
Tovey had a penalty chance to extend the gap to a more comfortable distance for the Dragons, but slipped just before kicking the ball.
Edinburgh came back, a penalty into the Dragons 22 and then a series of forward barges – each one making an inch or two or a yard. Just when it looked as though their patient progress would pay off, the Dragons forced a turnover and it was game over.