THE Dragons’ nightmare season continued when they threw away a lead to become the first team to lose to Zebre this season.

Dean Ryan’s men were in control when 18-11 in the final quarter thanks to tries by replacement scrum-half Lewis Jones and wing Jared Rosser.

READ MORE: Match report as Dragons implode in Parma

However, Rosser was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle and fly-half Sam Davies joined him in the sin bin for kicking the ball out of the hands of an attacker on the line as he sniped for the line.

That offence also led to a penalty try and Zebre, who went over in the first half through hooker Luca Bigi at a driving lineout, struck with four minutes to go when wing Simone Gesi crossed.

Here are the talking points from the clash in Parma…

South Wales Argus: Dragons boss Dean RyanDragons boss Dean Ryan


Dean Ryan is still moaning about depth yet not one player in that squad has been inherited.

The director of rugby either signed them or re-signed them. A moan about depth is effectively a grumble about his own judgement or an inability to help a player get better.

There was just one player who I would class as a novice – substitute Will Reed – the rest have plenty of URC experience under their belts by now.

Of the XV, on-loan hooker Taylor Davies will return to the Scarlets while centre Adam Warren, loosehead Aki Seiuli and wing Jared Rosser are yet to be confirmed as being on the books for 2022/23.

The Dragons may have had a number of high-profile absentees but this was still a team of regulars, not a side flung together from Welsh club rugby.

Ryan has grumbled for months about the lack of depth beneath his first-choice XV yet the spotlight must also go on him and his management team.

The director of rugby has more coaching resources available than the Dragons have ever had before.

He has brought in forwards coaches Mefin Davies and Luke Narraway, defence coach Simon Cross, backs coach Gordon Ross, strength and conditioning coach Dan Baugh, you even see mental skills and leadership coach Patrick Marr knocking about on the pitch in warm-ups.

When it was Darren Edwards, Lyn Jones, Kingsley Jones and Bernard Jackman at the helm, there were consequences for seasons like this.

We all know that Welsh professional rugby has big problems and issues cannot be tackled in isolation but, as I’ve written so many times, this Dragons team is not playing to its full potential.

This was a horrendous performance in an awful game that was a million miles away from the other fixtures played in the URC.

That can’t simply be dismissed as being because there were players on the pitch who should be third on the depth chart, not second.

There are some talented individuals out on the pitch who are better than they are showing, and that isn’t just on them. The workman can’t blame his tools when he’s kept them in his box.

South Wales Argus: DROPPED: Rhodri Williams puts the Zebre catchers under pressureDROPPED: Rhodri Williams puts the Zebre catchers under pressure


This was almost a blueprint for how not to play against a winless side, the unorganised Dragons produced an error-strewn, inaccurate, indisciplined display that lacked control against a poor team.

Even then they still had a seven-point lead on the hour, at which stage it was about leaving with the result and then dissecting the poor performance.

Don’t give them a sniff… and the Dragons then imploded with two daft yellow cards.

The poor discipline has been a theme of the season and this was down to decision-making under pressure.

Rosser will know he made a howler when dumping Luca Andreani to the ground, Davies will know the stupidity of his action when already down to 14 (even if the decision to award a penalty try was a little generous).

At times the Dragons make themselves too easy to play against.

South Wales Argus: Ben Carter climbs to take lineout ball at ZebreBen Carter climbs to take lineout ball at Zebre


It seems to be the modern way to back your drive and go to the corner.

Decisions are judged by the outcome but this was an occasion for the Dragons to take three points and build scoreboard pressure on winless Zebre.

In the first half they turned down shots at the corner when trailing 11-6 but endured a pair of fruitless spells in the 22.

Calls aren’t just down to the captain in the spur of the moment, there will be a strategy from a week of preparation.

If you are the Sharks then going to the corner makes sense but it’s less understandable with a Dragons pack that the boss says lacks power.

Fully-loaded, perhaps go to the corner. Without six Wales forwards against a team in the habit of losing, take the three.


This was probably the lowest point of a horrendous season, worse than shipping a record amount of points to Munster, being battered by the Sharks, drawing with Benetton during the Six Nations or throwing it away against a poor Perpignan.

The win at the Scarlets provided some much-needed cheer and the hope of at least finishing with a flourish but it was been followed by two dispiriting defeats.

The Dragons have three games left and need to land a few shots at the Ospreys before two huge home fixtures against Cardiff and the Lions.

Successes certainly won’t paper over the cracks but defeats risk a toxic atmosphere, and nobody would be able to blame the long-suffering fans for venting their spleens.