FINALLY the questions can stop, no longer will Dragons players have to pretend that they don’t know about or mention an away hoodoo.

Failure on the road in the Guinness PRO14 became a major issue as the tally of defeats since the March 2015 win in Treviso grew.

It was a concern when the figure hit the 20s, it was mildly embarrassing when it moved into the 30s, it was shameful when the 40s were hit.

A golden opportunity was wasted at the Southern Kings last season, when a draw ensured that the run of defeats changed into a run without victory, but thankfully the big 5-0 will not be ‘celebrated’.

Dragons players fooled nobody when they insisted the streak was not an issue, that the run was only something that the media and statisticians mentioned.

The away record had been hanging over the region for years, it lingered and proved to be as hard to budge as Nic Cudd at the breakdown.

The streak needed to be shattered and the fixtures fell perfectly to allow director of rugby Dean Ryan to get rid of the distraction early on in his reign.

Campaign Series:

Zebre were there for the taking on Saturday and the Dragons didn’t mess it up; they had assistance from a red card in Parma but were good value for the win.

Ryan’s predecessor Bernard Jackman spoke about the need for a bit of luck, rugby’s equivalent of the ball going in off a player’s backside in football.

As it happened, the Dragons weren’t fortunate in terms of the performance – they were excellent – but things did fall their way by having Zebre, last season’s bottom team, in World Cup period in dry conditions.

All that mattered was that they ended the streak and after that important step they can now focus on being more dogged on the road.

Every single away fixture in the PRO14 this season will be tougher than last weekend but a weight has been lifted off the players’ shoulders.

Free of anxiety, perhaps they can stun a team to prevent another tally growing, but at the very least they can pick up precious points on their travels.

The Dragons have to arrive at grounds and force their hosts to be kicking for goal rather than immediately chasing bonus points. They have to ensure that home fans take to their seats with a feeling of jeopardy.

The PRO14 needs the Rodney Parade region to lob some spanners in the works for the play-off contenders, and not just in Newport.

Saturday’s win in Zebre should allow them to do that this season, which features trips to Dublin, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Glasgow, Belfast, Llanelli, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.

And when they do board the plane to face Leinster on Friday, November 2 they should be doing so on the back of some home success.

There has always been a degree of expectation when the Dragons are at Rodney Parade and that will certainly be the case tomorrow night.

Connacht are a fine side and will be seeing this as a chance for some away points to go along with the healthy haul that they always accrue in Galway.

But this is another big chance to make step forward in the early days of the Ryan era, and after releasing the pressure on the road they can ill afford to let it build up through home disappointments.

The new boss is keen to stress that he can’t afford to be results-obsessed in his first year but picking up points on the road and beating plenty in Newport will ensure the PRO14 table provides tangible evidence of progress.

Campaign Series:

WARREN Gatland will have challenged his Wales back row forwards to give him a selection headache for the World Cup quarter-final. Instead their excellence has given him an easy task.

The head coach could put the names of Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi, Aaron Wainwright and Ross Moriarty in a hat and pull out three names to start in Oita and one to be a replacement.

Whatever the combination, Wales will have a strong trio and a quality player adding oomph off the bench.

That is remarkable given that quality players Taulupe Faletau and Ellis Jenkins, not to mention Thomas Young and Ollie Griffiths, are sat at home watching ITV.

Wales are blessed in the back row and one imagines that the selection meeting ahead of the quarter-final, likely to be against France, will boil down to deciding between Dragons.

Strongman Navidi is arguably the star performer of the tournament so far while Tipuric is a class act who can adapt to any style of game, leaving Wainwright and Moriarty scrapping it out.

Wainwright, powerful, dynamic and with a huge engine, is the man in form after a strong summer, the start against Georgia and then an impressive 50 minutes emptying the tank in the win against the Wallabies.

He has showed Gatland that he can be trusted to start… but perhaps he should return to the role of impact sub.

Moriarty is one for the stick rather than the carrot and was fired up by the decision to hand him the 20 jersey in the first two games.

The abrasive, tough number eight responded strongly in a testing clash against Fiji yesterday and is likely to feature again versus Uruguay on Sunday.

Whether it is Les Bleus or England in the last eight, Moriarty is one to relish that physical confrontation against big units.

Wales can smash into them and then unleash incessant Wainwright off the bench for half an hour or 20 minutes.

But even if Gatland was to do it the other way round then it would be a combination the envy of most countries in Japan.

Wales are in the enviable position of having a back-row selection that is impossible to get wrong.