THE Dragons have been told they have to show a killer instinct in today's crucial Guinness PRO14 clash with Zebre in Newport.

The Rodney Parade region are looking for their second win of the season when they entertain the Italians (kick-off 5.15pm) and the heat is on head coach Bernard Jackman, who promised brighter times throughout a miserable 2017/18 campaign.

After making a number of high-profile signings the Dragons have made an indifferent start with an error-strewn loss to Benetton and a hammering at Leinster either side of their nervy success against Southern Kings.

Conversely, Zebre have won two from three and are buoyed by their stirring comeback to beat Cardiff Blues at the death last weekend.

Jackman knows that the Dragons cannot afford to let their visitors get their tails up.

"The concern for us is that at 17-0 up we let the Kings back into the game," said the head coach. "Obviously we've got to try and build a lead first, but we've got to be conscious of killing the game off and not becoming loose.

"There are lots of little moments in games that we need to control better, but we are not a million miles away from having a really good performance."

The fixture against Zebre has gone with home advantage on the last seven occasions but the Dragons were victims of the Italians' never-say-die spirit in April. They led 26-10 at half-time in L'Aquila only to down 34-32.

"Zebre came back from what you would like to think would be the dead. That's the challenge for us, if we do get ahead then kill them off," said Jackman.

"They have confidence to come back from a big deficit; the momentum they have got from the win against the Blues in terms of confidence, it's huge for them.

"If we let Zebre play like they did against the Blues then we will be chasing shadows – it was a real Latin performance when they got momentum.

"It was like there was 17 or 18 of them on the field and it was so hard for the Blues to stop them.

"It was the same when they played against the Kings; they got a bonus point last minute because they had momentum."

The Dragons were put under the pump by Benetton's hefty pack in round one but the boss says Zebre present a different challenge.

"Interestingly they are top six in stats in a huge amount of areas and top two in offloads and defenders beaten," said Jackman.

"They play a different style to Treviso, who are a big forward pack with a good kicking game and good defence.

"Zebre just try and gamble, they risk it from their 22 and from restarts. They are very loose but have confidence and they are dangerous. We had a good defensive session this week and are aware of their threats in attack."