Boss Dean Ryan admitted it had been a tough physical night for his Dragons as they lost 39-12 to Zebre in the Guinness PRO14 at Rodney Parade.
Number Eight Harrison Keddie and fellow back row Taine Basham – with his seventh try in nine games this season – crossed the whitewash.
But Zebre – with their Italian internationals involved – scored five tries to take maximum points.
“That was a tough night for us physically. With their Italy internationals back you could see the difference in physicality,” said Director of Dragons 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 to take from 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.”
Dragons were also dealt a fresh injury blow with Daf Howells forced off with an elbow injury.
“The money that we’ve got to spend leaves us with some very young men having to play PRO14 rugby,” added 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.”
“I was not carried away by two wins and I am not down in the dumps now,” added Ryan.
“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.”
That was an experience for them, it was an opportunity but highlighted that some of them probably aren’t at that place yet...