THE Dragons endured a torrid time when hammered 39-12 by Zebre at Rodney Parade. Here are the talking points from the Guinness PRO14 fixture…

ZEBRE’S REVENGE

The Italians celebrated wildly at the final whistle, and deservedly so.

Yesterday was their first win since beating Enisei-STM in the Challenge Cup last December, and they produced an excellent performance as well.

READ MORE: The match report from last night's game

Zebre were better than the Dragons in all facets to avenge their own 52-28 hammering when the sides met in Parma in October.

Dean Ryan’s team celebrated wildly in the away changing room on that occasion and this time it was Zebre’s turn.

They were excellent and it could be a real battle between the Italians, Dragons and Ospreys at the bottom of Conference A.

OVERPOWERED

One feared the worst when the teams were announced for the fixture on Friday lunchtime.

The Dragons were without most of their internationals – thanks for the Barbarians fixture, WRU – while Zebre were a much tougher proposition than in October.

Their starting pack featured five Italy internationals, uncapped 21-year-old Danilo Fischetti was flown to the World Cup as an injury replacement and Irish locks Mick Kearney and Ian Nagle.

Their strength even enabled them to allow underrated second row forward George Biagi to play for the Baa Baas.

Zebre won the battle up front to dominate possession (61 per cent) and territory (67 per cent). The Dragons were never going to win with those stats.

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A YOUNG TEAM?

“There were some young men there who were exposed way earlier than they should be to a Zebre side filled with internationals,” said Ryan afterwards.

“That was an experience for them, it was an opportunity but highlighted that some of them probably aren’t at that place yet.”

Yet this wasn’t a ridiculously young side and seven of the starting pack were regular first-teamers to go along with bright prospect Taine Basham.

There was undoubtedly youth on the bench in the shape of Josh Reynolds, Ellis Shipp, Ben Fry and Max Williams but the starters weren’t inexperienced.

Arguably it was more of a quality issue than an age and experience one.

REINFORCEMENTS NEEDED

The Dragons need those that were at Principality Stadium to swiftly get their heads back on regional matters.

Big games come thick and fast over the next month or so with a tough double-header against a Worcester team who have started well in the Premiership.

It’s then the three festive derbies and the final push for the knockout stages of the Challenge Cup.

Last night was deflating but it has still been an encouraging start to the campaign. Hopefully the introduction of some international quality can help get things back on track.