Zebre's dramatic upset of Brive
CHALLENGE CUP WRAP: Carlo Canna kicked a penalty with a minute left on the clock to hand Zebre victory in a tense encounter against Brive on Friday.
Brive took the lead after just five minutes through a Guillaume Galletier try but Zebre drew level shortly after as scrumhalf Marcello Violi crossed to score.
Brive edged back in front through a Tedo Abzhandadze penalty moments later, but it was Zebre who went into the halftime break leading thanks to a try from Pierre Bruno.
The home side regained the lead just over ten minutes into the second half courtesy of another Abzhandadze penalty before the fly-half added his third of the evening with a quarter of an hour to go.
Zebre responded with a penalty of their own moments later through Canna, bringing the visitors within a point of Brive, before the fly-half held his nerve to slot a kick in the 79th minute to hand his side victory.
The two sides meet again on January 16, with Brive making the trip to Zebre’s Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Round 3 of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
* In the other Friday match, Newcastle Falcons came from behind to beat Castres 26-17 in what could prove to be a crucial win.
Newcastle claimed the first points of the game through a Brett Connon penalty, but the French side hit back with two tries through Antoine Bouzerand – the second after an outrageous offload from 19-year-old Clement Clavieres who also set up the first score.
Late in the first half Connon nailed two further penalties, and with neither of the Castres tries converted, Newcastle found themselves within a point of the hosts at the interval.
A quarter of an hour into the second half the Falcons eventually breached the Castres rearguard with Sam Stuart crossing, followed by a Tom Arscott try ten minutes later.
Newcastle put themselves within touching distance of a bonus point after Josh Basham dotted down with five minutes to go, but a handling error saw Castres handed a third try through Vilimoni Botitu in what proved to be the final score of the game.
The two sides meet again on January 16, with Castres making the trip to Kingston Park in Round 3 of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
Friday scores and scorers
Castres Olympique 17-26 Newcastle Falcons
For Castres Olympique
Tries: Bouzerand 2, Botitu
For Newcastle Falcons
Tries: Stuart, Arscott, Basham
Pens: Connon 3
Yellow card: Alexis Decaux (Castres, 70)
Brive 16-18 Zebre
Pens: Abzhandadze 3
Tries: Violi, Bruno
Pens: Canna 2
Yellow card: Mesake Doge (Brive, 28)