CAPTAIN Andrew Coombs admits it would be a crushing blow if Newport Gwent Dragons were overhauled by Cardiff Blues but is confident that the Rodney Parade region can rally for the RaboDirect Pro12 run-in.

The Dragons have slipped to ninth in the table after a shocking run since the turn of the year that has seen them take just seven points from seven games.

They need to halt the slide if they are to avoid being leapfrogged by the Blues, who are just three points back and have been buoyed by a shock win against title hopefuls Ulster last time out.

The Dragons have been the bottom-ranked region in seven out of 10 seasons and could do with turning over Treviso on their own patch this weekend to ease their nerves of once again being Wales' worst.

"We've taken three points from three games and that's not good enough, but I still feel that we are heading in the right direction this season," said Coombs, who led the side in their home defeats to Connacht and Edinburgh and away draw at bottom club Zebre.

"It would be a blow if the Blues caught us," he continued. "We started the season really well but it's been tough for us since Christmas.

"We played in the Amlin Challenge Cup against some big sides (Bath and Bordeaux) and that knocked our confidence. It's starting to come back now and there are four games left and all we can target is four wins.

"It was tough against some of those sides, especially at set piece time, but bringing in (ex-England tighthead) big Duncan Bell has helped out massively and given the youngsters a boost."

The pack's performance against Edinburgh gave reason for cautious optimism ahead of Saturday's encounter with a notoriously rugged Treviso front eight.

They had the nudge on the Scots but failed to make their territory and possession count, something that Coombs acknowledges needs to change at the Stadio Monigo.

"We worked so hard against Edinburgh and got just one point from it," said the lock. "Rugby's a funny game; sometimes you deserve more and don't get it and that was a classic example.

"The boys couldn't wait to get back to training, ready to go again against Treviso, but we know that we have got to take more points when we get into their 22."