NEWPORT Gwent Dragons director of rugby Lyn Jones hailed the character of his charges for salvaging a 25-25 draw against Zebre, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Rodney Parade region didn't get the win that they desired in Parma but managed to avoid coming a cropper at the Stadio XXV Aprile thanks to Jevon Groves' late try that was expertly converted by Jason Tovey from wide on the right.

After crushing defeats to Ulster and Connacht it looked like the Dragons would pay the price for getting on the wrong side of referee Peter Fitzgibbon when Italy fly-half Luciano Orquera booted his way to a 17-point haul.

But the region fought back to claim a draw that helped them climb back above Edinburgh, who they host at Rodney Parade on Thursday, into eighth in the RaboDirect Pro12 table.

"We are heading into the game against Edinburgh in much better shape and I am very pleased about that," said Jones.

"I was delighted to the response to what happened against Connacht. Okay, we didn't get the win that we wanted against Zebre but we got the performance in lots of respects.

"We looked ten times better than we did against Connacht and the way that they players managed the week of build-up to the game was really good.

"They took responsibility and we saw a response and plenty of character to at least get a draw."

The Dragons will be without centre Ashley Smith for the Edinburgh clash after the 27-year-old suffered an injury while scoring in the first half. He will have a scan on his left foot today.

Edinburgh were also in Italy at the weekend and suffered a 20-16 defeat to Treviso, although Cornell Du Preez's fine score with the last play meant that they at least had the consolation of a bonus point.