DEAN Ryan admitted his Dragons side couldn’t handle the collisions after being overpowered by Zebre at Rodney Parade.

The Italians won their first game in 2019 by running in five tries when dominating the Guinness PRO14 encounter in Newport.

The Dragons were without six players who were on Wales duty against the Barbarians and Zebre made them pay, avenging their October 52-28 hammering in Parma comprehensively.

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“That was a tough night for us physically. With their Italy internationals back you could see the difference in physicality,” said director of rugby Ryan.

“We struggled in the collisions, we held on for 40 minutes but you could see the start of it. If you can’t handle collisions and can’t get over the gain line then you will have a tough night.

“There always things in a performance and there were some young men there who were exposed way earlier than they should be to a Zebre side filled with internationals.

“That was an experience for them, it was an opportunity but highlighted that some of them probably aren’t at that place yet and they’ve got to use that to work out how they get there.”

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After losing full-back Jordan Williams for the rest of the season last week, the Dragons suffered another injury blow when wing Dafydd Howells suffered a dislocated elbow.

“The money that we’ve got to spend leaves us with some very young men having to play PRO14 rugby,” said Ryan.

“That’s always been the challenge and it’s not suddenly become an issue. Losing Daf Howells after losing Jordan Williams means we have to look at the next man in.”

The Dragons headed into the fixture on the back of European Challenge Cup wins against Castres and Enisei-STM.

“I was not carried away by two wins and I am not down in the dumps now,” said Ryan, who was appointed as Bernard Jackman’s successor in the summer.

“What I am seeing is lots of young men starting to get things right but are they ready for the physicality of a fired-up side filled with Italian internationals? Probably not but we probably knew that beforehand.

“We’ve got to keep developing the players and get them into a better space to get this side in the right direction.”