THE Dragons enjoyed a 16-5 win against Zebre in the Guinness PRO14, here are the talking points from the clash at Rodney Parade…


The Dragons are blessed with back row riches with talented players unable to make the matchday squad.

But on form the region's best blindside? Ollie Griffiths. Their best openside? Ollie Griffiths. Their best number eight? Ollie Griffiths.

Alas, there's just one of the versatile back rower so head coach Bernard Jackman has to make do with Wales internationals Aaron Wainwright and Ross Moriarty...

Griffiths had a stunning 2016/17 to earn a cap against Tonga but injury misfortune ruined last season.

If he can stay fit then there is every chance of the 23-year-old from Newbridge making Warren Gatland’s squad for the autumn internationals because he has started this campaign brilliantly.

“Ollie was very good,” said head coach Bernard Jackman, who started Griffiths at openside before he moved to blindside when Nic Cudd came on.

“He didn’t have any prep in pre-season but we threw him in against Treviso, we tried to mind him last week by having him on the bench because we need to protect him, but he is pretty exciting.

“Seven will be interesting with Wales, there are a lot of good back rowers. We want to give Ollie exposure at 8 as well and with Nic Cudd maybe some at 6.

“We want to give him every opportunity to play international rugby and we feel he can do all three positions.

“He is not very tall but is very powerful. Sam Simmonds at Exeter, he is not big but he is pretty effective.”


It was a horrendous day in Newport (thank goodness for the revamped pitch) but that suited the Dragons.

Zebre are a dangerous side who like to run from deep and offload; they are very different to the heavy-set Benetton.

The Dragons struggled when the game was loose against Southern Kings, so for once one of those familiar rainy days at Rodney Parade was just the trick.

Bernard Jackman’s side played the conditions the better with Rhodri Williams taking no risks. At times the scrum-half received some grumbles for the amount of time that he took organising his forwards but it was not a day for risks.

“We are building as a team and if you think back to the Kings game, we got in trouble when we rushed an exit. They ended up with a line break, a yellow card and momentum,” said Jackman.

“We want to fix that. At the moment it looks ponderous but it means that we are not exposed on the counter-attack and that is something that Zebre are strong at.

“Barring one example in the first half, we looked comfortable in the kick chase. As we get to know each other that will happen a little bit quicker.”


The Dragons have something of a free hit on Saturday – they head to Glasgow, who will be fuelled by a loss to Southern Kings, with the pressure off.

The heat was on before Zebre but a win makes it a solid enough start. Benetton was disappointing (in terms of performance more than anything) but the Dragons have responded with a pair of hard-fought home wins.

That should quieten some of the calls for changes at the top for now, buying time for Jackman to work on the faults that clearly still exist.

However, the game in a fortnight is massive when the Dragons attempt to end their nightmare streak of derby defeats. Cardiff Blues is the biggest game of the season and opportunity knocks.

South Wales Argus:


Hopefully soon it won't be noteworthy that the referee is a woman.

This was a mightily fine Guinness PRO14 debut on Welsh soil for Joy Neville; the former Ireland back row forward was clear, firm and refereed with empathy.

It was her performance that commanded and kept respect, not her sex.

She was helped by the experienced George Clancy, who ran the line and provided one of the highlights of the afternoon.

The Irish whistler was on the receiving end of some “cheat, cheat” chants after deeming that a Josh Lewis kick had gone dead, while some of the Dragons staff were furious.

The incident was swiftly up on the big screen and eagle-eyed Clancy, with a smile on his face, nodded as he was proved right.

Finally there was the incident of a yellow card for Brandon Nansen for his body check on Carlo Canna, a decision that Bernard Jackman called “a joke” on S4C.

I felt at the time that it was soft but on post-match viewing saw that it was correct. The Samoan lock was daft, although Canna shouldn’t be pleased about his theatrics.

A good day for the Dragons, a good day for the officials.