ZEBRE gave the Dragons that sinking feeling again on Saturday, as Dean Ryan’s men came up short for the eighth game in a row in league and cup.

While Elliot Dee and Leon Brown were celebrating a Triple Crown in Cardiff, their Rodney Parade team-mates went down to a 26-15 defeat at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

The Dragons, who have four matches left this season, now find themselves propping up Conference A after a sixth successive Guinness PRO14 loss.

This was a great chance for the Dragons to end their losing run, especially as the Italians had more than a dozen players on Six Nations duty.

But the visitors failed to take advantage, and while the hosts played well enough, they were certainly helped by a woeful Dragons performance – one that also included two yellow cards.

Tries from number eight Renato Giammarioli and flanker Lorenzo Masselli, coupled with the place kicking of Paolo Pescetto, gave Zebra a well-deserved victory in Parma.

Wing Jonah Holmes, thanks largely to the impact of Rhodri Williams and Josh Lewis off the bench, gave some respectability to the scoreline with two late tries.

That, and the welcome return to action of Ross Moriarty, a late call-up to the starting XV in place of Huw Taylor, were about the only positives to come out of a fruitless European trip.

Boss Dean Ryan said he will lodge a complaint with the PRO14 this week over the performance of referee Gianluca Gnecchi, in particular the Italian's officiating of the breakdown.

Here are some of the talking points from another 80 minutes to forget for Dragons fans…


This was a real opportunity for the Dragons to end their losing streak and they failed to take it.

Yes, they have players on international duty and others out injured, but you felt they had enough to see off a Zebre outfit who had 13 squad members involved in the Six Nations.

The Dragons have some tough fixtures before the end of the season, although a Welsh derby against the Ospreys and three home games means there’s hope this streak can be halted.

Speaking after the game on Saturday, Dean Ryan said: “It was a tough night but there were some positive individual performances.

"Jonah (Holmes) looked dangerous and I thought Josh (Lewis) came on and gave us real impact.

"I was also pleased with Gonzalo (Bertranou) with his speed, we just couldn’t get any momentum in that first half.

"I think he was frustrated how to get that with so many people all over the ball.”


Dean Ryan will talk to PRO14 referees' chief Greg Garner this week after slamming the performance of Gianluca Gnecchi on Saturday.

Ryan claimed his side suffered from a lack of consistency at the breakdown.

"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]," he said.

“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.”


Two yellow cards in the first half, for Ben Fry and Ross Moriarty, didn’t help the cause.

Fry’s arrived in the 13th minute and the flanker could perhaps consider himself lucky that it was only a yellow he received from referee Gianluca Gnecchi.

When clearing out at a ruck, Fry appeared to lead with his shoulder, Zebre centre Enrico Lucchin feeling the full force.

The TMO looked at the incident a number of times but couldn’t quite see if Fry’s shoulder had made contact with Lucchin’s head.

The officials gave Fry the benefit of the doubt and he went to the bin for 10 minutes.

And just before the break it was the returning Moriarty who saw yellow for a no-arms tackle.

He was adamant he had wrapped an arm around the ball carrier, however, the replays didn’t really help his case.


Speaking before the game, Dragons boss Dean Ryan said it wouldn’t be wise for his men to get involved in an arm wrestle with Zebre’s hefty forward pack.

He was looking for them to open up and move the ball around the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

But they were unable to get into any sort of rhythm with ball in hand and the likes of wingers Ashton Hewitt and Jonah Holmes barely had a touch in the first 50 minutes.

It was only when new dad Jamie Roberts, Josh Lewis and Rhodri Williams came off the bench that the Dragons posed any threat, and even then they had to wait until the last 15 minutes to cross the Zebre try line.

With Zebre winning the forward battle, and the Dragons’ set-piece under pressure throughout, the running game Ryan wanted was always going to be tough to come by.


Argentinian scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou was given the nine jersey ahead of captain Rhodri Williams and would have been eager to make a good impression on his debut.

He looked lively to begin with but couldn’t stamp his authority on proceedings after that.

Williams replaced him with around 20 minutes to go and had a hand in both of his sides tries.

Firstly, his risky long pass to Jonah Holmes paid off and then a searing run allowed Josh Lewis to find Holmes for the Dragons’ second score.