DRAGONS boss Dean Ryan slammed the performance of referee Gianluca Gnecchi after the Guinness PRO14 loss to Zebre in Parma, claiming his side suffered from a lack of consistency at the breakdown.

The Rodney Parade side suffered an eighth successive loss after being beaten 26-15 at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

They trailed 16-3 at half-time after yellow cards for back row forwards Ben Fry and Ross Moriarty, on his return from injury, and a brace by Wales winger Jonah Holmes was no consolation.

The Dragons now prop up Conference A and haven’t won since Glasgow missed a conversion at the death at the start of December.

Director of rugby Ryan will be in contact with PRO14 refereeing chief Greg Garner this week after being perplexed by Italian official Gnecchi’s inconsistency at the contact area.

South Wales Argus: Gonzalo Bertranou on his Dragons debutGonzalo Bertranou on his Dragons debut

“We didn’t come to terms with what the expectation was at the breakdown,” said Ryan. “That was pretty obvious with two yellow cards in the first half, when we were still trying to get people to get an understanding from the referee.

“We just don’t think that it was applied [equally] in the game. Full credit to Zebre in terms of getting the result but we found it very difficult to understand how to slow them down or speed us up [at the breakdown].

“That ultimately was influential in the game. We didn’t know the answer and kept getting penalised every time we went near the breakdown and yet we ended up with a huge fight whenever we ended up on the front foot.

“Ultimately all we want is consistency one way or the other. We don’t feel we got that and there is a lot of frustration because this was a game where we wanted to get some momentum back in our season and we didn’t achieve that.”

The Dragons, who are in a battle with Zebre and Glasgow to avoid propping up the conference, travel to Bridgend to face the Ospreys on Saturday.