Wasps give Zebre six of the best

Date published: January 22 2017

Wasps progressed from Pool 2 of the Champions Cup with a 41-27 win over Zebre on Sunday.

The visitors knew any win in Parma would do, but they struggled in the opening stages and did not have the lead until right before the break. 

However, an assured performance thereafter accredited them with the maximum five points on offer as the Italians finished the pool with no points. Carlo Canna gave the hosts a surprising, yet somewhat deserved lead from the tee with less than 10 minutes on the clock and before the quarter of an hour mark, Mattia Bellini went over on the right hand side to extend that advantage further with Canna converting. 

Danny Cipriani reduced the deficit soon after with a penalty of his own, but the Italian side were looking like a different animal from last weekend's crushing defeat to Connacht and responded with three points of their own. 

However, come the half hour mark, Ashley Johnson touched down to end a long spell of attacking pressure with some reward and though Cipriani missed a simple conversion, he atoned his error by splitting the Zebre defence and going over, before slotting the extras to give the pre-match favourites the lead for the first time on the stroke of the break. 

And, on the stroke of half time, Dai Young's side extended their advantage as Zebre started to show their usual cracks, opening up to allow Elliott Daly to go over with Cipriani kicking for the extras with the last touch of the half. 

Wasps were frustrated at the start of the second half as they looked to add to their advantage, but got the breakthrough as Johnson scored his second of the day with Zebre down to 14 men, and in doing so grabbed his side the bonus point. 

The floodgates were now open and a storming run from Christian Wade saw him extend the advantage further after running 40 metres, though Cipriani was off target from the tee, and even a converted Zebre try soon after mattered little as Wasps continued to apply pressure and Nathan Hughes touched down with minutes to go. 

Zebre had the last laugh of the day, scoring their third try for their best performance in this season's competition, but Wasps went through with a no frills victory.

The scorers:

For Zebre:
Bellini, Baker, Ruzza
Cons: Canna 2, Violi
Pens: Canna, Violi

For Wasps:
Johnson 2, Cipriani, Daly, Wade, Hughes
Cons: Cipriani 4
Pens: Cipriani

Zebre: 15 Kurt Baker, 14 Lloyd Greeff, 13 Mattia Bellini, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Guglielmo Palazzani, 10 Carlo Canna (c), 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Derick Minnie, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 George Biagi, 4 Joshua Furno, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D’Apice, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Carlo Engelbrecht, 22 Serafin Bordoli, 23 Andries Van Schalkwyk

Wasps: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 James Haskell, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Matt Symons, 4 Joe Launchbury (c), 3 Marty Moore, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Simon McIntyre
Replacements: 16 Nathan Hughes, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Craig Hampson, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Josh Bassett

Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Jonny Erskine (Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)