United Rugby Championship: Cardiff hammer Zebre Parma for sixth league win

Colin Newboult

Cardiff stopped the rot by overcoming Zebre Parma 42-14 in the United Rugby Championship to give their fans some cheer in an otherwise dreadful campaign.

After defeating Glasgow Warriors in late March, the Welsh region went on a run of four successive league defeats, failing to get near the Scarlets (twice), Ospreys and Munster, but they took out those frustrations on the Italians.

Dai Young’s men were rampant in the first half, going 35-0 ahead at the break thanks to two tries via Owen Lane and further scores from James Ratti, Lloyd Williams and a penalty try.

Understandably Cardiff‘s intensity dropped after the break, allowing Zebre to respond through Erich Cronje and Maxime Mbanda, but they ended on a high note as Max Llewellyn went over to complete a comfortable URC victory.

This victory pushed Cardiff up to 13th in the table, but the end-of-season play-offs and Champions Cup qualification were already out of reach.

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Cardiff started strongly as they applied pressure in the Zebre 22, with number eight Ratti powering over from close range.

Rhys Priestland added the extras and the home side were soon celebrating their second try when impressive loosehead Rhys Carre charged through the Zebre defence before offloading to Williams, who ran in for the score.

Cardiff were then awarded a penalty try when Theo Cabango was tackled high in the act of scoring. As if the outcome was not bad enough for Zebre, culprit Junior Laloifi was also sent to the sin bin.

Cardiff had the bonus point in the bag after 21 minutes, with Lane running in unopposed from 40 metres out.

Lane claimed his second on the stroke of half-time as he hacked on a loose ball to touch down, and Priestland added the extras to give the hosts a 35-0 lead at the interval.

Zebre scored their first try just after the break, with South African Cronje showing his power to score.

The quality of the game deteriorated in the second half and Cardiff were temporarily reduced to 14 men when replacement hooker Kirby Myhill got sent to the sin bin for a late shoulder charge.

Zebre made the most of their numerical advantage with a powerful carry from Gabriele Venditti, who offloaded to Mbanda for the Italian side’s second try.

Despite remaining pointless in the second half up to that point, Cardiff had the last laugh late on when explosive centre Llewellyn sliced open the Zebre defence to run in a try from 35 metres out, with Thomas adding the extras.

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