9:02am Saturday 29th March 2014
LEWIS Evans is determined to help Newport Gwent Dragons avoid a sleepless night in Italy by helping them bounce back with victory against Zebre.
The Rodney Parade region need to get back on the horse in Parma after a demoralising RaboDirect Pro12 defeat to Connacht last Sunday.
They were turned over 24-8 on their own patch after being crushed up front, the Irish province scoring three tries with a driving lineout and another thanks to a scrum against the head.
Zebre will be scenting blood and will look to put the squeeze on with their set piece at the Stadio XXV Aprile.
Evans knows that the pack are under pressure to put in a big performance in order to keep the ninth-placed Dragons' hopes of a top-half finish alive.
"If anyone slept well on Sunday night then they are not in the right job," said the 26-year-old blindside flanker. "It was a shock to the system; Connacht outdogged us in the set piece and did a number on us.
"But we have to bounce back and confront the challenge because Zebre are a very tough side in their own back yard.
"Their scrum is very good and so is their driving lineout so this week we have got to respond. We've done bits of analysis on Zebre but mainly we have looked at getting our own house in order.
"When we are nice and sorted in the set piece we are a force to be reckoned with so those of us that have been selected have a responsibility to put things right after Connacht.
"We know that we are going in the right direction this season but we took two steps back last week."
The Dragons have never lost to Zebre but were made to work hard in northern Italy last season when Steffan Jones' late penalty sneaked a 14-13 success.
That game also came in the wake of a Rodney Parade shocker – a 60-3 thumping by Glasgow – and the region have turned to seasoned campaigner Duncan Bell to help them respond.
The 39-year-old ex-England prop, who was brought out of retirement by the Dragons last month, gets the start at tighthead.
"Duncan is the cornerstone of our scrum and you can tell he is a former international," said Evans.
"He is a good character and just does his job on the pitch, locking down that scrum and putting us in good shape for the other parts of our game."
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