Playmaker Sam Davies admits Dragons must deal with expectation and produce a polished performance when they face Zebre on Friday night at Rodney Parade (kick-off 8.15pm).
The Guinness PRO14 for the 2020/21 season launches on home soil with the visit of the Italians.
Davies, who this week turned 27, acknowledges that Dragons will start as favourites in Newport and they must produce if the team is to continue to make strides this campaign.
However, after a loss to Zebre at home last season, he is well aware of the threat they will pose.
“We are not taking this game lightly,” said the Swansea-born No.10. “We know we are expected to win, that comes after making strides forward last season.
“We are confident we can do that, but we have got to get things right in terms of our territorial game and accuracy, which we didn’t quite against Leinster.
“If you look at the ball in play time (against Leinster) it was 40 minutes, so that is quite high,” he added. “I think we are going to look to try and keep that ball in play as high as possible for this game, but on our terms.
“You can almost get caught up against some teams thinking that you will just run away with the game, but they are very strong opposition and hold a lot of internationals themselves.
“Early on in the game you have to stay clean and play a territorial game. Then hopefully, in the last 20 or 15 minutes, that’s when you can capitalise.”
Davies wants Rodney Parade to become a fortress this season after a number of notable scalps last season.
However, a double blow against Italian opposition, blotted the copybook last season and the fly half is aware of that derailing threat again this term.
“If you look at last season we lost at home to Zebre and Benetton, all be it missing a few key guys, but they are the games that if we were winning last year it knocks us up the table a couple of places,” he said.
“That is what we are looking at this season. If we can win in our derby games, like we did last year, and win our other games at home then we are going in the right direction.
“We don’t want to set targets for this season, but we want to make sure we are winning our home games.
“If we can do that then it will be a good step forward for us as Dragons.”
We don’t want to set targets for this season, but we want to make sure we are winning our home games...