Pro14: Zebre 7-10 Cardiff Blues
|Zebre (7) 7|
|Tries: Venditti Cons: Palazzini|
|Blues (10) 10|
|Tries: Lane Cons: Evans Pen: Evans|
Cardiff Blues were made to battle for their Pro14 win against Zebre in sub-zero temperatures in Italy.
A sprinkling of snow had been cleared from the pitch at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma and events rarely caught fire on it as both teams fought out a physical match.
Owen Lane grabbed a converted try for the Blues with Giovanbattista Venditti intercepting and scoring to level.
A Jarrod Evans penalty proved decisive ahead of a point-less second period.
The Blues had to withstand early pressure as the hosts were only stopped by some stern defending by the Welsh club. Three times the Blues managed to hold up Zebre as they crossed the goal-line in the early stages.
The visitors, who had been forced to make six changes, were thankful to the accurate boot of Evans to ease the pressure.
And it was the Blues who finally broke the stalemate on 27 minutes when Owen Lane went over for a fine try.
The move began with a good interception in midfield by Ellis Jenkins. His long pass was blocked, but Rey Lee-Lo gathered the loose ball and fed Lane, who did well to out-strip the home defence before cutting inside for the try under the posts. Evans slotted over the conversion.
The Blues thought they had stretched their lead minutes later but Aled Summerhill's effort after the kick through was ruled out by the officials, and the visitors paid.
It was Zebre wing Venditti who made the interception and ran the length of the pitch to go over the try line with Guglielmo Palazanni making the conversion to level things up on 37 minutes.
But the trusty boot of Evans inched the Blues back in front at the interval as his penalty just about crept over.
As they had in the first period, it was Zebre who came out on the front foot with Rhun Williams having to put in a huge tackle to stop the rampaging Gabriele di Giulio going over. The result was Williams having to go off injured with Blaine Scully coming on.
Despite battling efforts from both sides, neither could trouble the scoreboard again and it was the Blues who earned the victory.
Zebre: Rory Parata; Gabriele Di Giulio, Giulio Bisegni, Faialaga Afamasaga, Giovanbattista Venditti; Serafin Bordoli, Guglielmo Palazzani (capt); Cruze Ah-Nau, Oliviero Fabiani, Dario Chistolini, David Sisi, Leonard Krumov, James Tucker, Johan Meyer, Derick Minnie.
Replacements: Luhandre Luus, Daniele Rimpelli, Roberto Tenga, Valerio Bernabo, Jacopo Sarto, Riccardo Raffaele, Maicol Azzolini, Matteo Pratichetti.
Cardiff Blues: Rhun Williams; Aled Summerhill, Garyn Smith, Rey Lee-Lo, Owen Lane; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Gill, Kirby Myhill, Anton Peikrishvili, George Earle, Damian Welch, Olly Robinson, Ellis Jenkins (capt), Josh Turnbull
Replacements: Rhys Buckley, Brad Thyer, Scott Andrews, James Down, Alun Lawrence, Tomos Williams, Steve Shingler, Blaine Scully.
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistants: Eddie Hogan-O'Connell (Ireland) and Clara Munarini (Italy)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)