Cardiff Blues had to work overtime for an unconvincing 14-7 RaboDirect Pro12 victory over Zebre at Stadio XXV Aprile on Sunday.
The Italians had shown tremendous spirit in defeat to Ulster a week earlier and headed into their latest challenge confident of earning a win at the expense of a Cardiff outfit struggling badly for form.
But three second-half Ceri Sweeney penalties made Zebre pay for their indiscipline and cost the hosts victory after they had held an early lead.
The sin-binning of the Blues' Robin Copeland on 15 minutes paved the way for the Italians to cross for the game's first try, scored by Samuele Pace, following a period of territorial superiority.
But the hosts were unable to add to their lead and by half-time their advantage had been cut to just two as Nathan Trevett crossed for a crucial try just ahead of the half-hour.
Sweeney was wide with the extras, but his eye for goal in the second-half would prove pivotal, as Zebre conspired to relinquish their advantageous position through a series of poor defensive decisions.
The first three-pointer on 58 minutes gave the Blues the lead and a quickfire brace around the 70-minute mark put further daylight between the two teams, and left Zebre requiring a converted try to salvage a draw.
But the levelling score did not come, and the Blues became the latest team to escape from Parma with a narrow victory.
Pens: Sweeney 3
Zebre: 15 David Odiete, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Gonzalo Garcia (c), 12 Samuele Pace, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Nicola Cattina, 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 5 Filippo Cazzola, 4 Josh Sole, 3 David Ryan, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Luca Redolfini, 19 Emiliano Caffini, 20 Filippo Cristiano, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Paolo Buso, 23 Ruggero Trevisan.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Owen Williams, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Tom James, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Josh Navidi (c), 6 Rory Watts-Jones, 5 James Down, 4 Macauley Cook, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Rhys Williams, 1 Nathan Trevett
Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Andries Pretorius, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Tom Williams.