DRAGONS captain Richard Hibbard said that he was sick of taking encouragement from away games in the Guinness PRO14 but there was little danger of that after their embarrassing losing streak on the road continued with a 57-7 humiliation at Benetton.

The Italians are a fine side chasing the play-offs but the ease with which they had a bonus point secure was shameful.

It took less than half an hour for them to chalk up four tries and five more followed.

The performance was a shambles, as bad any anything from a pretty lengthy list of abject displays in recent years.

It could also be used as evidence of the difference that confidence makes in sport; Benetton have got used to winning and eased away after their opening try, the Dragons can’t stop losing on the road and heads slumped.

The Rodney Parade region have made defensive strides in recent times but the ease with which the home side went over in glorious conditions at the Stadio Monigo was mind-blowing.

The offloading Italians breezed over the gain line, won every collision and exploited a gargantuan defensive error count of missed tackles and awful alignment.

On this evidence the Dragons are at serious risk of finishing as the PRO14’s worst side – the trip to Port Elizabeth to face Southern Kings in April could well be a ‘wooden spoon’ match.

South Wales Argus:

All this when it looked like a golden opportunity to end the 40-game away losing streak in the league that goes back to Treviso in March, 2015.

The Dragons were without their six-strong Wales contingent but Benetton provided 14 members of the Italy matchday squad for the Six Nations encounter with Ireland in Rome.

Nonetheless, the hosts started as favourites thanks to a run of just one loss in their last 10 fixtures in all competitions – at Harlequins in the European Challenge Cup – and a points tally from the last six rounds of the PRO14 that only Leinster and Munster could better.

The Dragons turned down an early chance to move in front through the left boot of Jason Tovey only for flanker Ollie Griffiths, usually so dynamic with ball in hand, to knock on when peeling off the five-metre lineout.

Benetton followed their lead with a 14th minute penalty just outside the 22, and they made no mistake.

Their drive was stopped well but hard carries were followed by a flat ball from scrum-half Duvenage to put his half-back Antonio Rizzi over for a try that he converted.

It was soon 12-0 after a miraculous finish by Fijian wing Ratuva Tavuyara, who grubbered and gathered down the right flank, the TMO giving the green light to South African ref Quinton Immelman by mobile phone because of a communication failure.

South Wales Argus:

The Dragons were hanging on and weren’t helped by injuries to back row forwards James Benjamin and Ollie Griffiths with just over a quarter gone.

And Benetton had their bonus point before half an hour had been played thanks to a quickfire brace by full-back Luca Sperandio, the first after a superb offload by Tavuyara and the second thanks to superb handling down the right.

Woeful defence allowed wing Monty Ioane to jink over down the left and at 31-0 it was already job done by Benetton.

The Dragons had the final say of the half when Rhodri Williams made a superb break from a set move off a scrum and when he was stopped a yard short the ball popped up for wing Jared Rosser to dive over.

Jason Tovey converted from the touchline but normal service was resumed after the break, with the tone being set by the restart being allowed to bounce into touch instead of being claimed.

Try number six soon followed with a driving lineout and then awful ruck defence allowing flanker Giovanni Pettinelli to power over from close range.

More shocking tackling allowed Sperandio to have the freedom of Stadio Monigo but Tavuyara’s foot just went into touch before he grounded with another flying finish.

The only hope was that Benetton would take their foot off the gas but they showed no sign of that with a length of the field effort for number seven, lock Cannone finishing off a move sparked by Tavuyera as the Italians completed dominated the collisions.

Number eight followed on the hour as more missed tackles allowed Cannone to power over – he wouldn’t have expected to go all the way – from a lineout move.

Desperate defence by Tyler Morgan, holding up opposite number Tommaso Benvenuti, prevented the hosts’ ninth.

Actually, it just delayed the ninth with a close-range effort by Robert Barbieri twisting the knife with two minutes left.

Benetton: L Sperandio (T Iannone 56), R Tavuvara, T Benvenuti (M Zanon 70), A Sgarbi (captain), M Ioane, A Rizzi, D Duvenage (G Bronzini 55), D Appiah (A Makelara 47), T Baravalle (A De Marchi 47), M Riccioni (G Di Stefano 47), I Herbst, N Cannone (M Barbini 62), M Lazzaroni, G Pettinelli, T Halafihi (R Barbieri 40).

Scorers: tries – A Rizzi, R Tavuvara, L Sperandio (2), M Ioane, G Pettinelli, N Cannone (2), R Barnieri; conversions – A Rizzi (6)

Dragons: Z Kirchner (A Warren 62), J Rosser, T Morgan, J Dixon, W Talbot-Davies, J Tovey (J Lewis 45), R Williams (R Davies 59), B Harris (R Fawcett 59), R Hibbard (captain, 33-38), L Fairbrother, L Evans (R Lawrence 61), M Screech, H Keddie, O Griffiths (J Davies 23), J Benjamin (T Basham 22).

Scorers: try – J Rosser; conversion – J Tovey

Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)