IT was far from a perfect performance but the Dragons are in the rare position of being able to reflect on where they need to get better after a win.

The Rodney Parade club recorded just their fourth victory of the season by beating Zebre Parma 20-13 in Newport on Good Friday.

They led 13-6 at the break thanks to tries by centre Aneurin Owen and wing Jared Rosser and then hooker Elliot Dee barged over early in the second half.

The Dragons failed to add to that score but held on despite a late try by Zebre prop Muhamed Hasa, with the conversion earning the visitors a bonus.

The success lifted them above the Sharks, who will aim to move back above them by beating Edinburgh in Durban this afternoon, and the Italians.

Here are some talking points from the Rodney Parade clash…

South Wales Argus: BURST: Dragons winger Rio Dyer on the run against ZebreBURST: Dragons winger Rio Dyer on the run against Zebre (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


That Zebre were chasing a draw in the 80th minute shows that the Dragons made hard work of this.

There was real desperation in defence when the Italians were pressing through 10 phases until a knock-on under no pressure.

At 20-6 early in the second half, one more score of any kind probably would have been enough to seal the victory for the Dragons.

It never came.

They failed to get anything from a trip to the 22 shortly after try number three from Dee and there was frustration from a key phase in the 69th minute.

They tried a fancy lineout move and were fortunate to regain possession after the defence wasn’t fooled and saw replacement scrum-half Dane Blacker coming for the short throw.

Just outside the 22, the Dragons should have stripped things back with one-out play to try and force Zebre into something daft but instead Blacker fired a wide pass out, Sean Lonsdale was isolated and the visitors got a penalty to clear.

The Dragons need to learn when to grind it out, but that will only come if they win more regularly.


The Dragons had seen Zebre eat into their lead as half-time approached but there was still time for a strike play that could easily have led to a third try but instead saw Gonzalo Garcia sin-binned for offside close to his line.

That was followed by a mature decision by captain Steff Hughes when it would have been tempting to hunt a seven-pointer with the clock in the red.

Instead, the centre pointed to the posts, Cai Evans added three points that the Dragons looked to exploit their extra man at the start of the second half.

They did that by kicking back-to-back penalties into the 22 and driving over.

The yellow card period cost Zebre 10 points and in truth it should have been 17 to absolutely kill the game.

Nonetheless, the Dragons made the most of a sin-binning when just seven days earlier yellows to Will Reed and Dee had cost them 14 points against the Bulls.

South Wales Argus: PRESSURE: Sean Lonsdale got through a mountain of work for the Dragons against ZebrePRESSURE: Sean Lonsdale got through a mountain of work for the Dragons against Zebre (Image: Huw Evans Agency)


Of the five back row forwards that featured for the Dragons it wasn’t the two that played in the Six Nations, the former Lion or club stalwart that played the full 80.

Sean Lonsdale earned another start ahead of Dan Lydiate and Harri Keddie thanks to his display against the Bulls and then produced a strong performance to ensure that a slightly off-colour Aaron Wainwright (who had a draining Six Nations, let’s not forget) and lively Taine Basham were the ones to be replaced.

The 26-year-old hasn’t exactly been a roaring success since moving to Rodney Parade from Exeter but he has certainly been solid.

Lonsdale was more than that against Zebre with turnovers, hits, carries and a big work rate summed up by him going so close to getting under Hasa for the try.

The back rower/lock is out of contract this summer and the fear is that the financial situation in Wales will mean the Dragons cannot afford to keep him, certainly not on the terms that he arrived from the Chiefs on.

A departure would highlight the sorry financial state of the professional game because Lonsdale is a dependable and versatile squad man who can ensure that the likes of Ryan Woodman, George Young and Nick Thomas have proper time to develop.