The Dragons kept in touch with Cardiff Blues in the PRO12 standings after they beat Zebre 25-11 at Rodney Parade on Sunday.
Ross Wardle’s try and eight points from the boot of Tom Prydie gave the Welsh region a 13-6 lead at the interval as they edged the play in the first half.
The response from the Italians came via two Kelly Haimona penalties, but ill-discipline severely hampered the visitors as they were reduced to 13 men for a period.
During their absence they conceded two touchdowns with Hallam Amos and Rynard Landman going over. Andrea Manici crossed the whitewash for Zebre with 25 minutes to go, but it couldn’t spark a remarkable comeback.
Both these sides have endured torrid campaigns in 2014/15, winning just three games between them going into this encounter. The opening exchanges were therefore unsurprisingly a low quality affair with neither team looking particularly threatening with ball in hand.
It was the Dragons who arguably displayed the more ambition and they were rewarded with a penalty by full-back Prydie. However, the visitors, with their pack to the fore, hit back and levelled matters through Haimona.
Unperturbed by being put on the back foot by the Zebre forwards, the Dragons regained their advantage when a fine move, which was instigated by Prydie, resulted in a try for Wardle.
Although the Italian outfit’s kicker reduced the deficit from the tee, the hosts’ full-back restored their seven-point buffer at the break following a yellow card for Mauro Bergamasco.
Bergamasco was soon joined by another player in the bin when Leonardo Sarto was sent from the field for 10 minutes after a dangerous tip-tackle.
With their opponents down to 13 men, the Dragons duly extended their lead as a period of possession on the away side’s line ended in Amos crossing the whitewash.
Landman then touched down as the Dragons opened up a seemingly unassailable margin, even though Manici’s score gave Zebre hope. But despite putting pressure on the opposition in the final quarter, the Italian team couldn’t eat further into the deficit.
Tries: Wardle, Amos, Landman
Con: Prydie 2
Pen: Prydie 2
Pen: Haimona 2
Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Matthew Pewtner, 13 Ross Wardle, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 James Thomas, 5 Rynard Landman (c), 4 Andrew Coombs, 3 Brok Harris, 2 T.Rhys Thomas, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Lewis Evans, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Dorian Jones, 23 Tyler Morgan.
Zebre: 15 Hendrik Daniller, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Kelly Haimona, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Filippo Cristiano (c), 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Luciano Leibson, 19 George Biagi, 20 Jacopo Sarto, 21 Luciano Orquera, 22 Giulio Toniolatti 23 Guglielmo Palazzani.
Referee: Gary Conway
Assistant Referees: Ben Whitehouse, Simon Rees
TMO: Paul Adams