THE Dragons have had enough post-mortems after narrow defeats and demoralising drubbings this season, so captain Steff Hughes is relishing the prospect of sifting through their issues after a hard-earned victory.

The Rodney Parade club climbed off the bottom of the United Rugby Championship with a 20-13 win against Zebre in Newport on Good Friday, a success that was nervier than it needed to be.

The squad were able to sing their ‘Allez, Allez, Allez’ for only the fourth time this season, and third time in the URC.

They are in a four-team scrap to avoid propping up the pile and saw the Sharks, who are surprisingly down the wrong end given their quality, climb back above them on Saturday with a win against Edinburgh to earn a three-point advantage.

The Scarlets remain just a point clear after a horrendous seven-try 45-3 hammering by Glasgow in Llanelli.

The Dragons have plenty of room for improvement and much better performances will be needed in the run-in against Benetton in Treviso on Saturday, April 20, Connacht and the Stormers at Rodney Parade, the Ospreys in Swansea and the Scarlets at the Cardiff City Stadium Judgement Day.

The squad have a breather before those fixtures because of their failure to progress in the European Challenge Cup but they will graft hard to put themselves in good shape for one last push.

South Wales Argus: JOY: Aneurin Owen, left, and Jared Rosser both scored for the Dragons against ZebreJOY: Aneurin Owen, left, and Jared Rosser both scored for the Dragons against Zebre (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“It has been a tough block. We've played some really good teams away from home in Ulster and Glasgow then had the Bulls here, a team full of World Cup winners,” said Hughes.

“It was good for us to get that Zebre result even if it wasn't the prettiest performance and our discipline let us down at times along with our accuracy and kicking game.

“But we are just pleased to get the win because a lot of hard work has been put in and we deserve the rub of the green. Hopefully that will give us confidence for the run-in with a lot of games in Wales.

“We’ve had enough times of looking at our work-ons after losing so it will be a good opportunity to be positive and look forward to the next block.

“We’re not playing in Europe so that gives us the chance to get our bodies right and work on different aspects. It’s a brilliant opportunity to get some momentum.”

It has been another tough campaign for the Dragons with wins against Welsh rivals the Ospreys and Scarlets either side of a success against Oyonnax’s second string in Europe.

They have had endured some narrow losses that could have been wins – notably Edinburgh and Cardiff at the start of the season, Pau away in the Challenge Cup – but have also been given some embarrassing drubbings.

“It’s been tough but you learn a lot about people around you in those situations. We have some brilliant people here and keep working hard to hopefully have more nights like against Zebre,” said Hughes.

The centre is a key figure on and off the field for the Dragons and at 30 is charged with helping the likes of Harri Ackerman, Joe Westwood, Ewan Rosser and the Wales Under-20s contingent push through.

Even Aneurin Owen, Rio Dyer and Will Reed are experienced but still at the start of their careers.

Hughes said: “The average age of our back line is about 23 at the moment so I feel very old! It’s great and the boys are developing brilliantly and it’s fantastic that the boys are getting their opportunities.

“The financial situation in Wales is well documented, so we have to develop our own and we have a really good crop here.”