Zebre stun Ospreys for first win of the season
MATCH REPORT: Antonio Rizzi scored 18 points as Zebre secured their first win of the PRO14 season by overcoming an off-colour Ospreys 23-17 in Parma.
Flank Renato Giammarioli was Zebre’s only other points scorer, finishing off a brilliant move for the game’s first try early in the first half.
Rizzi added a second shortly after and also kicked three penalties in the match, while replacement prop Gareth Thomas and flank Olly Crackenell responded for Ospreys.
The visitors pushed for a late converted try in a bid to snatch the win but coughed up a penalty at the Zebre try-line.
Zebre lost 63-8 against Leinster last weekend but made an encouraging start on home soil, with Rizzi’s penalty bringing up the first points of the day.
Ospreys made a sluggish start and conceded the first try in the 15th minute when Rizzi fizzed a glorious flat pass to the open Giammarioli on the left wing after a period of sustained pressure inside the 22.
Zebre’s forwards were bullying Ospreys and they added a second try shortly before the half-hour mark, again off the back of a series of a pick-and-gos inside the 22.
In the end it was Joshua Renton’s pass that picked out Rizzi, and he broke through one tackle and planted the ball down.
The fly-half added a second penalty shortly after half time and Ospreys responded by throwing on a new front row.
That had an almost immediate impact as fly-half Josh Thomas jinked through a couple of tackles and took Ospreys up to the try-line, and replacement prop Gareth Thomas burrowed over from close range.
That injected some momentum into Ospreys and they were notably quicker in defence and incisive on the ball.
However, Zebre weathered the storm and scored next through another Rizzi penalty – stretching the lead to 23-10.
Ospreys thought they hit back with nine minutes go when winger Mat Protheroe crossed in the corner. However, it was ruled out by the referee for a forward pass.
Ospreys kept the pressure on and a desperate Zebre lost replacement hooker Oliviero Fabiani to the sin-bin.
From the resulting play, flanker Cracknell squeezed over for a converted try, reducing the gap to six points.
Zebre, desperate in defence, could not stop Ospreys driving to the five-metre line in their bid to win the game but a breakdown penalty ended the match.
Tries: Giammarioli, Rizzi
Cons: Rizzi 2
Pens: Rizzi 3
Tries: Thomas, Cracknell
Cons: Thomas 2
Zebre: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Giovanni D’Onofrio, 10 Antonio Rizzi, 9 Josh Renton, 8 Giovanni Licata, 7 Renato Giammarioli, 6 Lorenzo Masselli, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Samuele Ortis, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Marco Manfredi, 1 Paolo Buonfiglio.
Replacements: 16 Olivero Fabiani, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Matteo Nocera, 19 Leonard Krumov, 20 Antoine Koffi, 21 Nicolo Casilio, 22 Paolo Pescetto, 23 Michaelangelo Biondelli.
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Mat Protheroe, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Joe Hawkins, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Josh Thomas, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 James King, 7 Dan Lydiate (captain), 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Dewi Lake, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ifan Phillips, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Will Griffiths, 20 Sam Cross, 21 Harri Morgan, 22 Cai Evans, 23 Callum Carson
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Gianluca Gnecchi, Riccardo Angelucci (both Italy)
TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)