THE Dragons have no margin for error at Zebre Parma this afternoon (kick-off 3.15pm) in their bid for home comforts in the Challenge Cup.

Dai Flanagan’s side head to Italy needing to win if they are to head into next weekend’s group-stage finale against the Sharks with a chance of last-16 tie at Rodney Parade.

The Dragons suffered a 73-33 hammering at Glasgow in the knockout stages last season so are keen to avoid going on their travels.

If they win against Zebre and then back it up against the Sharks then they would finish in the top two of Pool One and earn not only a last 16 tie at Rodney Parade but a quarter-final.

First job is to secure qualification after claiming six points from their opening games against French opposition, a bonus-point win versus Oyonnax and a last-gasp loss at Pau.

South Wales Argus: Dragons captain Rhodri Williams scoring against Zebre last seasonDragons captain Rhodri Williams scoring against Zebre last season (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“Mathematically a win will see us through. The target is to get a home last-16 tie and a win this weekend would stand us in good stead and put us well on our way to achieving that,” said backs coach Matt O’Brien.

“Our record at home is pretty good and the target is a knockout tie at Rodney Parade because the fans are brilliant and we love playing there.”

The Dragons haven’t won on the road since beating Pau in last season’s tournament – the Judgement Day win against the Scarlets at Principality Stadium was technically a home game – and their last triumph in Zebre was in 2019.

Hooker James Benjamin keeps his spot after an impressive performance in the New Year’s Day derby win against the Scarlets.

“We know the amount on this game and if we get a win, it'll certainly help us maybe get a home last 16 ties - that'll be massive for us and the club,” he said.

“We know the magnitude of this game and it's another chance to get back-to-back wins and create some momentum for the back end of the season.

“To get a home knockout game would be huge for the club and a great occasion - whoever we draw. That is huge for us.

“It’s an away game so we need to be smart with how we play, certainly for the first 50 minutes, and make sure we're in the game as we get to the latter stages and take the chances when they come.”

South Wales Argus: Pool One standingsPool One standings (Image: EPCR)

Pool One fixtures

Round three: Sharks v Oyonnax (today, 1pm), Zebre v Dragons (today, 3.15pm), Cheetahs v Pau (tomorrow, 1pm).

Round four: Pau v Zebre, Oyonnax v Cheetahs, Dragons v Sharks.