Josh van der Flier earned the Player of the Match on his 100th appearance for Leinster Rugby as the province earned a one-point win against Dragons.

The Dragons made it their mission to make a mess of Leinster’s ruck at Rodney Parade with an impressive back row of Aaron Wainwright, Ollie Griffiths and Ross Moriarty.

Leinster did not quite hit their stride early on, meeting a very aggressive Dragons defence.

When Dan Sheehan came up just short of the line from a maul, scrum half Lewis Jones was binned for killing the ball.

Leinster went to their trademark pick-and-go until Max Deegan powered through Ollie Griffiths for the try, Ross Byrne’s conversion glancing off the right post for 7-0 in the 15th minute.

Soon, a cross-field ball from Byrne, taken in by Rory O’Loughlin, was almost turned into a second before a counter, sparked by Jamison Gibson-Park, led to a yellow card for full-back Josh Lewis slapping down the ball.

It meant Dragons were reduced to 13 players and Leinster looked to exploit this advantage by going to the edge, Rob Russell eating up the ground before play broke down in midfield.

The prominence of Sheehan and Andrew Porter took Leinster to within five metres, Gibson-Park losing the ball forward at the ruck.

The longer Dragons stayed in touch, the more chance a degree of doubt might creep into Leinster’s mindset, given how well the home side coped with the yellows.

Slowly, the Welsh came into it, hooker Elliot Dee and Josh Lewis threatening in their first serious surge into the 22.

When they came again, Andrew Porter manhandled Moriarty and the combination of Sheehan and van der Flier stopped the Dragons dead to end a stop-start first-half in which neither side could find their flow.

The pro-active attitude of Dragons defence, in blocking Byrne’s kick, was remedied by Leinster forcing a scrum penalty.

A swift attack, anchored by a maul, prompted a period of proper handling from backs and forwards until Wainwright disrupted it.

At the other end, Rhys Ruddock was alert to a loose ball when Dragons were gaining momentum, prop Greg Bateman involved in carrying the fight.

A superb counter-ruck from James Ryan and van der Flier put Leinster on the front foot. Hugo Keenan was nailed in the tackle by Josh Lewis and Ciaran Frawley was upended for a turnover.

This was a win the Blues would have to chisel out with pure grit and determination as front-rowers Cian Healy, James Tracy and Ed Byrne came into the trenches.

This trio quickly powered up a penalty at the scrum, Keenan was again thumped by Lewis in the wide channel and the cleaners failed to protect the ruck ball.

The Dragons were gathering energy from their work in defence, Sam Davies slotting a penalty for offside to make it 7-3 in the 64th minute.

Two minutes later, a faulty lineout was seized on by Rhodri Williams for Davies to shoot three more points when Ryan Baird rolled into Williams at a ruck.

For the umpteenth time, Leinster worked their way into a prime position but this time, a handling error let them down at a pivotal moment.

Eventually, Byrne went to the clouds with a kick, Frawley grabbed the breaking ball. Dan Leavy looked like scoring and Nick McCarthy did from an offload.

However, the replay revealed how Russell’s hand knocked the ball forward in the lead-up. Dragons received a reprieve.

Suddenly, the rain slushed down, Leavy made an important tackle, Baird put his shoulder into another and Garry Ringrose kicked the ball off the field to end the game.