Zebre humiliate Cheetahs
PRO14 REPORT: Lightning-fast wing Charlie Walker grabbed a double in Parma as Zebre got their second win of the season in swashbuckling style.
The Cheetahs started well, but were largely second best for the rest of the 80 – as Zebre won 41-13.
Johan Meyer, Josh Renton and Giulio Bisegni joined Walker on the try-scorers’ list – with Carlo Canna adding 14 points with the boot.
Fresh from their break over the Christmas period the Cheetahs started on the front foot in Parma and after a spell of pressure crossed from close range through hooker Wilmar Arnoldi.
Zebre were in no mood to take it though on home turf and fired back on 13 minutes, passes swung along the line inside the 22, Rabz Maxwane drawn in and Walker diving in down the right.
They followed it up with two Canna penalties for a 13-5 lead, the South Africans pulled a penalty back but crucially just before the interval Michael Bradley’s men struck again, Meyer forcing his way over off the back of a catch-and-drive.
The score read 20-8 at the break and the hosts set about extending the lead when play resumed, scoring a lovely try on 52 minutes as scrum-half Renton dummied to ghost in next to the posts.
The Cheetahs knew something had to be done but couldn’t quite put enough composure into the phases, and it took until 62 minutes for Tian Meyer to get in down the left.
Just as the comeback was on Bradley’s men snuffed it out within minutes, the ball being spun out wide and Walker barging over the last of the defenders for his second.
Zebre led 34-13 heading into the final 15 and finished with an exceptional flourish as Bisegni and Meyer both crossed.
Man of the Match – Junior Laloifi
Zebre fullback Junior Laloifi was a clear winner in this regard, picking up the gong for a fantastic, composed, all-round display.
Laloifi set up one try and beat five defenders on his way to 65 metres but perhaps more importantly was a steady hand under the high-ball all afternoon in Parma.
Moment of the Match
The key moment, and touch of class, came just after the interval when both the crowd and neutrals suspected a Cheetahs fightback may come, but Zebre got on the front foot on resumption of play.
The class came from Renton, showing he could break the defensive line all on his own with a delightful dummy and burst of pace for the third try.
Tries: Walker 2, Meyer, Renton, Bisegni
Cons: Canna 5
Pens: Canna 2
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Arnoldi, Meyer
Zebre: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Charlie Walker, 13 Giulio Bisegni (captain), 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Joshua Renton, 8 Giovanni Licata, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 David Sisi, 3 Giosue Zilocchi, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 George Biagi, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Maxime Mbanda, 23 Edoardo Padovani.
Cheetahs: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Craig Barry, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Tian Meyer (captain), 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Chris Massyn, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Boan Venter.
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Erich de Jager, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Marnus van der Merwe, 21 Gerhard Olivier, 22 Ruan Pienaar, 23 Tian Schoeman.
Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy), Hollie Davidson (Scotland)
TMO: Paul Larter (Scotland)
Report by @PRO14Official