Edinburgh scrape past Zebre
URC REPORT: Edinburgh brought a run of four United Rugby Championship defeats to an end with a last-minute try from Patrick Harrison helping them to a 24-17 win over Zebre Parma.
Harrison’s late try enabled Edinburgh to secure the bonus point and get their season back on track.
Charlie Shiel, Jack Blain and Connor Boyle also crossed for the hosts, with Blair Kinghorn adding a pair of conversions.
Simone Gesi scored a pair of tries for Zebre and Tiff Eden also went over, with Eden adding a conversion.
Zebre, bottom of the table after losing all 11 previous outings, began brightly, only to be thwarted by a home defence in which Sam Skinner was especially effective.
The lock was also an influential figure in attack, and it was his clean catch from a line-out that led to Edinburgh breaking the deadlock just before the end of the first quarter.
The subsequent drive went deep into the Italian 22 before reaching an impasse but Boyle popped up from deep within the melee to feed Shiel, and the scrum-half had just enough space in which to dive over the line in the right corner.
Kinghorn missed the conversion attempt, but two minutes later, Edinburgh had their second try.
Some steady pressure in midfield put Zebre on the back foot, and eventually No.8 Nick Haining broke down the right before providing the scoring pass for Blain.
Zebre lost Gesi to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on, but ended the half on the offensive, then opened their account early in the second 40 through the wing himself.
Too many Edinburgh defenders had been dragged into central defence as the Zebre attack tried to force their way over the line, and when the ball came back out, the winger had acres of space in which to dot down.
With half an hour to play, Gesi struck again. Edinburgh failed to defend the narrow side at a line-out, scrumhalf Allesandro Fusco broke, and the wing was up in support to collect the pass and slide over. Eden’s second miss left the score tied at 10-10.
Then, with less than 15 minutes to go, Zebre took the lead thanks to some slack defence. Picking up from the base of a scrum, flyhalf Eden slipped through a gap then evaded Harry Paterson to score between the posts before adding the two points.
Edinburgh hit back within a minute. A penalty to touch was driven, and Boyle finished off a simple score. Kinghorn’s conversion made it 17-17.
In the dying minutes the home team were awarded two kickable penalties but went for touch both times only to fail to finish off.
When they got a scrum in front of the posts, however, they did get over the line, with substitute Harrison finishing off. Kinghorn’s drop-kicked conversion was the last kick of the match.
Player of the Match
Edinburgh lock Sam Skinner made a massive contribution in both attack and defence, menacing Zebre right across the field.
A dominant figure in the lineout, Skinner was also influential in open play, linking up well with his backs and harrying the Italians in their attempts to get speedy ball.
Play of the match
In a dour battle, a moment of inspiration by Zebre stand-off Tiff Eden briefly lit up proceedings. Spying a gap close to the breakdown, he raced through it then rounded Edinburgh full-back Harry Paterson for the score that gave his team the lead for the first time.
Tries: Shiel, Blain, Boyle, Harrison
Cons: Kinghorn 2
Tries: Gesi 2, Eden
Yellow card: Simone Gesi (Zebre, 31)
Edinburgh: 15 Harry Paterson, 14 Jack Blain, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Cammy Hutchison, 11 Blair Kinghorn, 10 Charlie Savala, 9 Charlie Shiel, 8 Nick Haining, 7 Connor Boyle, 6 Luke Crosbie (captain), 5 Jamie Hodgson, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 Angus Williams, 2 Dave Cherry, 1 Boan Venter.
Replacements: 16 Patrick Harrison, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Marshall Sykes, 20 Viliame Mata, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 James Lang.
Zebre: 15 Jacopo Trulla, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Boni, 12 Enrico Lucchin (captain), 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Tiff Eden, 9 Alessandro Fusco,8 Matt Kvesic, 7 MJ Pelser, 6 Giacomo Ferrari, 5 Joshua Furno, 4 Dennis Visser, 3 Matteo Nocera, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Paolo Buonfiglio.
Replacements: 16 Jacques Du Toit, 17 Alessio Sanavia, 18 Muhamed Hasa, 19 Leonard Krumov, 20 Davide Ruggeri, 21 Ratko Jelic, 22 Geronimo Prisciantelli, 23 Franco Smith Jr.
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa)
Assistant referees: David Sutherland (Scotland), Finlay Brown (Scotland)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)