Cardiff too good for Zebre
PRO14 RAINBOW CUP REPORT: Cardiff Blues completed their Pro14 Rainbow Cup campaign with a comprehensive 37-12 bonus-point victory over Zebre at Cardiff Arms Park.
Tries from Gwilym Bradley, James Botham, Dan Fish and Harri Millard along with a penalty try pushed Dai Young’s side over the winning line.
Jarrod Evans also kicked 10 points while Zebre scored two tries of their own courtesy of Pierre Bruno and Federico Mori, while Carlo Canna kicked two points.
It took 10 minutes before the game yielded any points with Evans kicking Cardiff into an early lead.
Zebre’s inability in defending the driving line-out resulted in them getting temporarily reduced to 14 men when Oliviero Fabiani was sent to the sin bin for illegally sacking the maul.
Cardiff made the most of their numerical advantage when blindside Bradley crashed over from the resulting line-out.
There was to be no let-up for Zebre as Cardiff continued to attack their tryline and after a series of pick-and-goes by the home side’s forwards, Botham managed to force his way over the line, with Evans converting.
Cardiff were soon celebrating their third try with some neat passing from Evans and Matthew Morgan putting Fish over at the far left-hand corner.
Evans converted from the touchline but Zebre had the last say of the half with a well-timed pass from Canna sending Bruno over. Canna added the extras, meaning Cardiff led 22-7 at the interval.
Zebre began the second half with a cracking try from long range as impressive centre Mori ran in unopposed from 50 metres out, although Canna missed the conversion.
Zebre now had the bit between their teeth as their forwards put the hosts under pressure but the visitors shot themselves in the foot when loosehead prop Daniele Rimpelli was sent to the sin bin for an illegal clear out at the ruck.
Evans nudged Cardiff further ahead with a straightforward penalty from right in front of the posts.
Zebre completely lost their discipline when replacement second-row Cristian Stoian was red-carded for a dangerous act of foul play as his shoulder made direct contact to the head of Tomos Williams.
The Italian outfit were then reduced to 13 men for the rest of the game after Canno deliberately slapped the ball over the dead-ball line which prevented his opposite number Evans from touching down for a try.
He was given a yellow card and Cardiff were awarded a penalty try.
Cardiff ended the game with a terrific team try which was started in their own 22.
Ben Thomas then ghosted past three Zebre defenders before unloading a terrific looping pass to put Millard over at the corner.
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Bradley, Botham, Fish, Penalty try, Millard
Cons: J Evans 2
Pens: J Evans 2
Tries: Bruno, Mori
Red card: Cristian Stoian (Zebre, 70)
Yellow cards: Oliviero Fabiani (Zebre, 15); Daniele Rimpelli (Zebre, 50); Carlo Canna (Zebre, 71)
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Jason Harries, 13 Willis Halaholo, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Dan Fish, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Josh Turnbull (captain), 7 Gwilym Bradley, 6 James Botham, 5 Cory Hill, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Corey Domachowski.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rhys Carré, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Alun Lawrence, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Harri Millard, 23 Rey Lee-Lo.
Zebre: 15 Michelangelo Biondelli, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Federico Mori, 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Giovanni D’Onofrio, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Iacopo Bianchi, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 Leonard Krumov, 4 Samuele Ortis, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Daniele Rimpelli.
Replacements: 16 Marco Manfredi, 17 Paolo Buonfiglio, 18 Matteo Nocera, 19 Cristian Stoian, 20 Giovanni Licata, 21 Nicolò Casilio, 22 Jacopo Trulla, 23 Filippo Di Marco.
Referee: Ben Blain
Assistant referees: Dan Jones, Mike English
TMO: Ian Davies