INDIANA Jones and the Last Crusade wouldn't have been quite so dramatic if it had been set at Rodney Parade rather than Al-Khazneh but perhaps the Holy Grail lies underneath the Burnett Suite.

At times is seems that the Dragons have found the secret to eternal youth.

For years we have listened to coaches talking about valuable learning experiences, about pain in the short term leading to gain in the long term.

It is a mantra that needs to be binned, yet it was repeated after a win against Zebre that was frustrating despite the four-try bonus.

"We've had a tough start to the season," said Jamie Roberts after the man of the match medal had been hung around his neck.

South Wales Argus:

"We played Bristol away after not playing much rugby and then went out to Leinster, and it's the best environment for us to learn in.

"It's a young group. There is a lot of growth potential in this group and some of the lads are really stepping up now.

"They are getting to understand what playing at this level is like and we need to build on this performance. It's a tough start to the season but hopefully we can build some momentum off the back of tonight."

In Roberts' defence, with a 34th birthday approaching next month he has reached a point in his career where pretty much everyone else on the pitch seems young.

The centre has shared a stage with the Manic Street Preachers but many of his new teammates didn't exist when 'Generation Terrorists' was released in 1992.

The Dragons' playing budget means that they don't have the depth of most professional sides; it doesn't take too many injuries before teens and 20-year-olds edge towards the senior XV.

That means the likes of Aneurin Owen, Rio Dyer and Ben Carter are involved with the big boys and the senior players have a big part to play in their development.

Roberts' role is to help the Dragons' youth to flourish yet those he mentors in Ystrad Mynach were not present in Newport last Friday evening.

South Wales Argus:

Of the 23-man squad, I would suggest only two, back row forwards Taine Basham (pictured above) and Ben Fry, can be considered young.

Basham won't be in that category for long – he may be just 20 but has already racked up 36 appearances, played in nine derby fixtures and been involved with the Wales squad.

This "young group" that Roberts referred to had an average age of 27 and comprised 12 internationals (plus three uncapped players, Jordan Williams, Ashton Hewitt and Basham, who have previously been called up by Wales).

The key decision-makers at half-back were 27-year-olds Rhodri Williams and Sam Davies. The matchday featured World Cup stars, British and Irish Lions, Grand Slam winners, champions of Europe, France and England, Brok Harris lifted the Currie Cup before heading for Wales.

Youth has been a valid excuse in the past but no longer.

Elliot Dee, Leon Brown, Joe Davies, Ollie Griffiths, James Benjamin, Harrison Keddie, Hewitt, Jack Dixon, these are not players who are wet behind the ears.

Go to the Dragons' website and you will notice a new inclusion on the pen pics of the management team – Patrick Marr, mental skills and leadership coach.

The core of the squad that he is working with are in their mid to late 20s or early 30s. Roberts is right, there is growth in this group but they are not green at PRO14 level.

After an encouraging first season under Dean Ryan, the Dragons will have to cope with greater expectations and they must not use inexperience as an excuse when they fall short of them.

The director of rugby knows that his first team are not urchins anymore, that's why he got the hairdryer out after a succession of lapses at the end of the first half against Zebre.

The side that he selected put themselves in a position for a comfortable five points but instead it was a cagey (but welcome) victory through their own shortcomings.

The Dragons are old enough to know better.