JAMIE Roberts guided Dean Ryan’s Dragons to a bonus-point win over Zebre, but neither star player nor director of rugby were totally happy with the performance at Rodney Parade.

A first win of the season for the Newport-based region came against the Italians as juggernaut back Roberts rolled back the years with a trademark powerful performance.

The former Wales and British & Irish Lions centre scored his first Dragons try and made two more for full-back Jordan Williams. Hooker Elliot Dee also crossed the whitewash.

But mistakes from the Dragons allowed Zebre to stay in the contest even though they never really looked like winning. The best example was just before half time when with the Dragons 15-3 up and with a man advantage, they kicked to the corner looking for a crucial fourth score.

They promptly turned the ball over and Zebre went straight up the other end and crossed through Federico Mori even though Mattia Bellini had just been yellow carded.

Asked how satisfied he was with the win, Dragons director of rugby Ryan said: “Not very is the easy answer. It’s a game where are after 35 minutes we’ve got a lot of control. When we kicked to the corner we had to get something out of that. We then ended up under our own sticks remarkably.

“It changed my half-time team talk and we’ve got to analyse those key moments as they happened against Leinster and again here. Although we had control of the game, it forced us into a cagier second half when we should have been surging away. I thought it was a game where we should have been able to easily move through the gears. We just keep dragging ourselves back down.

“Twelve months ago we’d celebrate anything that happened, but things have changed now. This group wants to get better and needs to hold itself to account.

“This was a game for us to raise the bar and sadly we didn’t.”

Ryan, who rightly praised Roberts’ display, added: “I don’t think our rugby is an issue, but the big moments and the clarity around those moments is a big issue. We’ve got to dig down and find out why. I felt if we’d taken more risks we would have moved clear. People need to ask serious questions as to why it’s happening because it’s contagious.”

Roberts was the game’s standout player as he combined his trademark physicality with some nice offloads. Flanker Taine Basham could also be pleased with his evening’s work.

A try and man-of-the-match performance ended a good week for Roberts after he and his fiancée Nicole Ramson confirmed they were expecting a baby boy.

“It’s a good result, but we’re probably quite disappointed with the nature of it,” Roberts said. “When we came to the corner we butchered the opportunity to score, they went under our sticks, and all of a sudden it’s a 14-point swing. I felt we were in control for the majority of the game and we’ve played Bristol and Leinster away – two of the best sides in Europe. We’ve learned a hell of a lot from those two games and this young group will only develop further.

“We’re only three games in and we’re making baby steps. My role is to win rugby games. I’ve always been a competitive bloke and I’m not just here to provide a mentor role. That’s a minor part of what I’m doing. I want to play to the best of my ability at the highest level for as long as possible.

“I feel I’m playing well. I played good rugby at the start of the year in South Africa. I hadn’t played in six months before the Bristol game and then the Leinster game was hard to get into as I had a yellow card. I feel fit. I’m 34 in November, but at some points I feel 26.

“Hopefully the break from Covid has given me time to regenerate.”