Cardiff Blues managed to hold on to pick up their fourth PRO12 victory, over Zebre on Saturday, winning 23-21 at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
Tries from Blaine Scully, Matthew Morgan and Tom James looked to have secured the victory for the visitors, but Zebre mounted a late comeback and scored three tries of their own.
Guglielmo Palazzani’s try was the first of six in the game, before late scores from Giulio Bisegni and Giovanbattista Venditti ran the Blues close.
An early exchange of penalties from Zebre’s Carlo Canna and Cardiff’s Steve Shingler brought the scores to 3-3 after eight minutes.
Zebre’s Palazzani was the first to carry over the whitewash, as he came from the back of a strong driving maul that pushed the Blues’ defence over their own tryline from a five metre lineout.
Shingler slotted a second penalty soon after, and after Oliviero Fabiani was shown to the sin bin, as strong push from the Cardiff pack was finished off by Scully who carried over in the corner. Shingler’s conversion extended the visitors’ lead to 13-8.
As Cardiff Blues worked through the phases looking for a second score, it was an pinpoint grubber kick from Cory Allen that found the gap in the Zebre backline, with full-back Morgan collecting to carry over. Shingler’s conversion sailed wide, but Edoardo Padovani reduced the deficit to seven points at the halfway mark with a fine penalty kick.
Left wing James scored Cardiff’s third try in Parma after stripping the ball in contact and racing to the corner from distance. Having replaced Shingler, Gareth Anscombe’s first attempt of the posts sailed wide.
Zebre hit back just after the hour mark, as fly-half Canna found a long, looping pass out to the wing to allow Bisegni the chance to make the most of a period of sustained pressure from the hosts, but Canna couldn’t convert.
With less than five minutes left, Nick Williams fumbled the ball inside his own five metre line, allowing Venditti to capitalise and reduced Cardiff’s lead to just two points. Padovani was not able to secure the draw at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, as his conversion attempt sailed wide of the target.
Tries: Palazzani, Bisegni, Venditti
Pens: Canna, Padovani
For Cardiff Blues
Tries: Scully, Morgan, James
Pens: Shingler 2
Zebre: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Gabriele Di Giulio, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Derick Minnie, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (c), 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D’Apice, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Valerio Bernabò, 20 Jacopo Sarto, 21 Carlo Engelbrecht, 22 Tommaso Castello, 23 Kayle Van Zyl
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Tom James, 10 Steven Shingler, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Josh Turnbull, 4 George Earle, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Rhys Gill
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Taufa’ao Filise, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Garyn Smith
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Luca Trentin (France)