Edinburgh see off Zebre
URC REPORT: Edinburgh pulled clear in the second half to earn a hard-fought 27-10 bonus-point victory over Zebre Parma in the United Rugby Championship.
Having fallen behind to a Pierre Bruno try in Italy, the visitors led 8-7 at half-time thanks to a Jack Blain touchdown, before Stuart McInally, Boan Venter and Ben Vellacott added their names to the scoresheet after the break.
The result moves Edinburgh, who also benefited from seven points from the boot of Blair Kinghorn, to the top of the Scottish/Italian Shield ahead of the international break, sitting three points ahead of Glasgow Warriors after five rounds.
Zebre, meanwhile, remain without a victory since February and are bottom of the overall URC standings.
Kinghorn – back in the Edinburgh side following a quad injury – opened the scoring from the tee after four minutes, but it was Zebre who registered the game’s first try.
A perfectly weighted 50:22 from Carlo Canna gave the hosts a line-out on the Edinburgh five-metre line and they spread the ball out to the left for Bruno to find a gap in the defence and go over, with Canna adding the extras.
Mike Blair’s men responded shortly after the half-hour mark when they showed quick hands to move the ball right – cleverly helped along by Kinghorn, who took a heavy hit from Junior Laloifi for his efforts – and Blain finished the job.
Kinghorn dusted himself down but missed the conversion, leaving Edinburgh with a one-point advantage at half-time.
Both sides struggled for fluency early in the second half, but Edinburgh stretched their lead when McInally touched down from the back of a maul.
The margin stayed within a converted try at 13-7 as Kinghorn was again unsuccessful from the tee, although he was on target after Venter barged through for Edinburgh’s third score, with Zebre having been reduced to 14 men following a yellow card for Jimmy Tuivaiti.
Antonio Rizzi stepped off the bench to reduce the deficit to 10 with his boot, but Vellacott finished the job with his fourth try of the season, spotting an opportunity to dive over in the corner at the death after Edinburgh had got within inches of the line and leaving Kinghorn to round off the scoring.
Man of the match: A couple of Edinburgh’s tries were a result of good work from the forwards and it was flank Luke Crosbie who took home the individual honour.
Tries: Blain, McInally, Venter, Vellacott
Cons: Kinghorn 2
Zebre: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Giulio Bisegni (captain), 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Erich Cronjé, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Alessandro Fusco, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Luca Andreani, 6 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 5 Leonard Krumov, 4 David Sisi, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Massimo Ceciliani, 17 Paolo Buonfiglio, 18 Ion Neculai, 19 Andrea Zambonin, 20 Potu Junior Leavasa, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Antonio Rizzi, 23 Michelangelo Biondelli.
Edinburgh: 15 Henry Immelman, 14 Jack Blain, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Cammy Hutchison, 11 Damien Hoyland, 10 Blair Kinghorn, 9 Charlie Shiel, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Jamie Ritchie (captain), 5 Pierce Phillips, 4 Jamie Hodgson, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Lee-Roy Atalifo, 19 Magnus Bradbury, 20 Mesu Kunavula, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Charlie Savala, 23 Chris Dean.
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Andrea Piardi (Italy), Federico Vedovelli (Italy)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)