No danger of Dragons taking Zebre lightly
7:02am Thursday 3rd October 2013 in Sport
ZEBRE'S stunning win against Cardiff Blues in the capital ensures there is no danger of Newport Gwent Dragons underestimating their Italian foes tomorrow (kick-off 7.15pm).
After 30 defeats in 30 games the Italians finally broke their duck at the Arms Park last month, deservedly winning 30-25 thanks to tries by Mauro Bergamasco, David Odiete and Brendan Leonard.
They followed that victory up with another strong performance in pushing leaders Glasgow hard to earn a losing bonus point that helps them sit 10th in the RaboDirect Pro12, above Edinburgh and Connacht.
The Dragons already respected Zebre after being pushed to the limit when the sides met in Parma last year, a late Steffan Jones penalty saving their blushes in a 14-13 win.
And the Rodney Parade region know that they cannot afford to have an off day if they are to finish the first block of league fixtures in style.
"Zebre have improved a lot and are a genuine threat," said former Wales lock Robert Sidoli, who is poised for his first Dragons start of the season.
"They had a really good result at the Blues and have some really good individuals in their side.
"Their core basics are very strong with a good driving lineout and a big scrum while they can also be expansive, so it's a big challenge."
The Dragons have suffered away defeats to Edinburgh (16-13) and Munster (23-9) but were impressive when securing wins on their own patch against Ulster (15-8) and the Scarlets (23-16).
Director of rugby Lyn Jones recognises the importance of morale-boosting home victories if he is to change the approach on the road.
"We are lacking in belief away from home," he said. "It's difficult when people are used to losing to change that attitude and mindset.
"Edinburgh were there for the taking, but we didn't believe it. Munster were there for the taking, but we weren't at the races.
"Having said that, there is so much good in our game and we are building every week.
"Confidence is a wonderful thing and it would be nice to finish this first period of RaboDirect Pro12 games with us halfway up the league."
If the Dragons win then they will climb above the Scarlets, who host leaders Glasgow on Saturday, and ensure they lead Cardiff Blues, who host Edinburgh on Sunday, going into a fortnight of European rugby.
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