THE Dragons suffered more last-kick anguish in Italy after being beaten 34-32 by fellow strugglers Zebre in the Guinness PRO14 despite a hat-trick from wing Jared Rosser.

The Rodney Parade region had suffered last-gasp heartbreak against Benetton in Treviso seven days earlier when the hosts pipped them 29-27 thanks to a penalty at the death.

This time it was the Dragons who had the chance to steal the spoils from the tee but fly-half Arwel Robson’s effort missed from long range, leaving Bernard Jackman’s side to rue a nightmare second half at the Stadio Tommaso Fattori.

It looked like they were going to end their three-year wait for an away triumph in the PRO12/14 when they led 26-10 at half-time thanks to the heroics of 20-year-old speedster Rosser and another score by scrum-half Charlie Davies.

However, they were hit by a comeback by Zebre, who crossed for a quartet of tries to deny the Dragons a first PRO14 win since September.

It is a defeat that means that they will set a new regional record low for league wins in a season even if they cause a mammoth upset against the Scarlets at Judgement Day at the end of the month.

Jackman’s first year at the helm has yielded just two successes – against Connacht and the Southern Kings at Rodney Parade in September – and they suffered a third campaign of away whitewashes on the spin.

They have now gone 33 games without success on the road since triumphing in Treviso in March, 2015.

The positive is that a raft of youngsters have been given a chance to experience professional rugby before the cavalry arrives in the summer with eight of the 23 that were on duty in L’Aquila having made their debuts in 2017/18.

That is the sole silver lining in a nightmare campaign with performances plummeting after the dramatic December draw against Ulster.

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The team were no doubt fuelled by frustration courtesy of the controversial late penalty in Benetton and after starting sluggishly and enjoying a second-half comeback in Treviso, the Dragons were hoping to come flying out of the blocks.

But once again they shipped an early score with Italy scrum-half Marcello Violi going over after a cracking counter-attack down the right featuring slick handling by the hosts, Test half-back partner Carlo Canna adding the extras.

However, this week the Dragons responded quickly with wing Rosser adding to his try against Benetton by stretching over.

Canna made it 10-5 with a 17th minute penalty but the visitors were celebrating again straight from the restart when Rosser dashed over for a second, fly-half Arwel Robson’s conversion making it 12-10.

And the 20-year-old had his hat-trick in the 34th minute when he won the race to scrum-half Charlie Davies’ neat grubber through and beat the last man.

Robson converted but the Dragons weren’t content with taking a 19-10 lead back to their changing room, Davies turned from provider to finisher.

The former Wasps half-back dotted with the extras putting Jackman’s side 16 points up and tantalisingly close to ending that tiresome streak.

But hopes of a stress-free second half were dashed by a rapid start by Zebre, who crossed for a pair of tries either of a Robson penalty with Italy centre Tommaso Castello and replacement prop Tommaso D’Apice scoring.

Canna’s converted the first and the game was in the balance at 29-22 with just under half an hour left.

It was even tighter when Zebre got their own four-try bonus thanks to back row forward Johan Meyer who hacked the ball through after a sloppy pass in midfield by Robson, although Canna couldn’t bring the hosts level from the tee.

Robson gave the Dragons a little more breathing room when he slotted a penalty after 66 minutes but then disaster struck with nine left.

Zebre hammered away at the line before Canna ran hard to power over by the posts and then added the simple extras for a 34-32 lead that was to be enough for the Italians… just with a try (correctly) chalked off by the TMO for a forward pass and the penalty drama.

Zebre: M Minozzi, M Bellini, G Bisegni, T Castello (S Bordoli 73), G Venditti, C Canna, M Violi (G Palazzani 76), A Lovotti, L Luus (T D’Apice 40), E Bello (R Tenga 69), L Krumov (V Bernarbo 62), G Biagi (captain), J Sarto, J Meyer, D Sisi.

Scorers: tries – M Violi, T Castello, T D’Apice, J Meyer, C Canna; conversions – C Canna (3); penalty – C Canna

Dragons: Z Kirchner, A Hewitt, S Beard, C Edwards (A Warren 72), J Rosser, A Robson, C Davies, L Garrett (J Reynolds 69), E Dee, L Fairbrother (D Suter 52), J Davies (M Williams 60), C Hill (captain), R Landman (T Basham 15-24, 46), A Wainwright, L Evans.

Scorers: tries – J Rosser (3), C Davies; conversions – A Robson (3); penalties – A Robson (2)

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)