BOSS Dai Flanagan says the Dragons must ‘lose the fear’ in tonight’s United Rugby Championship basement battle with Zebre Parma in Newport.

The Rodney Parade club go into the game (kick-off 7.35pm) bottom of the table, three points behind their Italian visitors.

It’s a wooden spoon rather than silverware at stake and the Dragons need to add Zebre to this season’s scalps of the Ospreys and Scarlets.

Last weekend they produced a spirited performance against the title-chasing Bulls, eventually going down 31-10, and Flanagan has called on his side to go up another level.

“Our first task is to repeat where we were physically last week,” said the head coach. “We won a lot of first contacts against a massive Bulls team.

“Italians are physical and thrive on emotion, so we also need that physicality and emotion.

“We need the boys to express themselves and lose the fear, go out and put on a show by being accurate and taking the chances that are presented.

“We are at home and we want to make people proud. We need to perform and win.”

South Wales Argus: DANGERMAN: Italy full-back Lorenzo PaniDANGERMAN: Italy full-back Lorenzo Pani (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

Zebre have won just one game this season but are above the Dragons courtesy of eight bonus points.

The Italians also won 20-17 when the sides met in Parma in the European Challenge Cup and Flanagan believes tonight’s opponents are a tougher nut to crack than in past years.

“Their DNA is to attack,” he said. “They will play from anywhere, especially off turnovers and what [former Cardiff defence coach] Richard Hodges has brought is a bit more steel on their exits.

“They make you work harder to score and our challenge is to be consistent, keep the ball for multiple phases and take our opportunities.

“In the Challenge Cup we were good out there for the first half and then they controlled the second. Our challenge is to control the 80 minutes.

“It was 12-0, we had full control and something like two and a half minutes in their 22. That steel that Rich has brought meant that we had to work hard and we blew two clear opportunities.

“They then came into our 22 in the 32nd min and scored a try immediately. We have to be better and more accurate.”

If the Dragons win with a bonus point then they would go above the Sharks, who host Edinburgh on Saturday, and close to within a point of the Scarlets, who entertain Glasgow.