THE Dragons played it perfectly in the torrential Newport rain to record a 16-5 win against Zebre that takes the heat off head coach Bernard Jackman.

It may have only been a round-four encounter but it was a must-win match for the Rodney Parade region and they did just that with a mature display in terrible conditions.

Tries by fly-half Arwel Robson and wing Daf Howells were key yet it was their kicking game that ensured they took the spoils against the dangerous Italians, whose rapid offloading game was curbed by the drizzle.

This was not a day for the expansive stuff and Dragons scrum-half Rhodri Williams got it spot-on with his frequent use of the boot and caution at the breakdown, despite some grumbling from the terraces.

Aided by a 16-5 lead early in the second half, the hosts played it savvy to record a victory that draws them level with their PRO14 meagre tally of two from last season.

It wasn't a game to remember but the trip home in the rain feels better for supporters thanks to four points.

Flanker Ollie Griffiths put in another gargantuan display to push for the Wales autumn squad while there were notable efforts from captain Cory Hill and number eight Ross Moriarty.

South Wales Argus:

The Dragons were more than good value for a win and four precious points in what was a massive game for Jackman after the frequent statements that last season was all about building for this campaign.

A win against Southern Kings a fortnight earlier, even though it was spluttering, had at least ended their losing streak but this was a much better effort against a stronger team.

The Dragons were first to strike through the right boot of fly-half Arwel Robson from the tee after four minutes, the hosts getting into the 22 after a superb grubber by his half-back partner Rhodri Williams.

They then had to soak up some Zebre pressure after being unable to clear their lines with Rhodri Williams and Jordan Williams the guilty parties with a pair of kicks straight into touch.

The Dragons got their reward for defending solidly with the first try of the game, and a well-constructed one at that.

Flanker Ollie Griffiths had been everywhere in the opening exchanges but this time the powerful runner was the decoy in the 22, shifting the attack for fly-half Robson to jink through for an 8-0 lead after 15 minutes.

However, Zebre responded when, playing with penalty advantage in the 22, fly-half Carlo Canna chipped over and wing Mattia Bellini gathered the slippery ball acrobatically for a super try.

The conversion was wide and Robson was also off target with a penalty, leaving the score at 8-5 with 25 minutes gone.

Both teams were understandable a little laboured in possession of the slippery ball and the kicking game was key.

In such conditions, the driving lineout was a useful weapon and for that reason captain Cory Hill pointed towards the corner rather than the posts at the end of the first half.

Zebre defended well from close range but a daft penalty under the posts gave the Dragons a free shot – and scrum-half Rhodri Williams flung the sort of pass he wouldn’t have dreamt of without the advantage wide right for Daf Howells to slide over.

Robson was wide with the tricky conversion but 13-5 at the break represented a solid lead given the persistent drizzle.

The Dragons got first chance to strike after the resumption when a reckless Zebre clearout on Ollie Griffiths allowed a shot from the tee from Jordan Williams rather than Robson. He bisected the posts for 16-5 after 44 minutes.

The hosts needed to keep Zebre at arms’ length with such a lead, a task that was made harder by the softest of yellow cards.

Canna chipped over the top and was daftly body-checked by Samoa lock Brandon Nansen. The Italy playmaker made the most of it and referee Joy Neville reached for her pocket approaching the hour.

However, the Dragons avoided any major alarm bells and it remained 16-5 as the clock ticked into the 70s and they had Nansen back.

They went on the charge to attempt to seal the win, with fly-half Josh Lewis trying to get in position for a drop goal. That failed but Zebre never got close to making it a nervy ending.

Dragons: J Williams, D Howells, A Warren, J Dixon (J Sage 40), J Rosser, A Robson (J Lewis 67), R Williams (T Knoyle 67), B Harris (R Bevington 51), E Dee (R Hibbard 51), L Fairbrother (A Jarvis 51), R Landman (B Nansen 51), C Hill (captain), A Wainwright (N Cudd 68), O Griffiths, R Moriarty.
Scorers: tries – A Robson, D Howells; penalties – A Robson, J Williams

Zebre: F Brummer, M Bellini, G Bisegni (T Boni 58), T Castello (captain), E Padovani, C Canna, M Violi (G Palazzani 58), A Lovotti (D Rimpelli 51), O Fabiani (M Celiliani 51), D Chistolini (G Zilocchi 51), D Sisi, G Biagi (A Tauyavuca 51), J Tuivaiti, J Meyer, G Licata.
Scorers: try – M Bellini

Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland)
Argus star man: Ollie Griffiths