United Rugby Championship: Zebre 23-18 Dragons — Rare win for the Italians against un-disciplined visitors

Zebre's Jimmy Tuivaiti is brought down by Ben Fry of Dragons
Ben Fry of Dragons brings Zebre's Jimmy Tuivaiti down
Zebre (11) 23
Tries: Gesi, Penalty attempt, Bigi Pens: Rizzi 2
Dragons (6) 18
Tries: L Jones, Rosser Con: S Davies Pens:S Davies 2

Zebre won their first victory in the United Rugby Championship against a weak Dragons team at Stadio Lanfranchi.

In quick succession, the sin-binnings Jared Rosser (left) and Sam Davies (right) decided the outcome of a tight contest.

Davies' offense resulted in a penalty try. Simone Gesi scored the winning try for Dragons short-handed.

Zebre led at half-time with Luca Bigi but Dragons threatened to win when Lewis Jones & Rosser crossed.

Since October, the Dragons have won only one competition: 38-27 at Scarlets during the United Rugby Championship.

Zebre remains bottom of URC with Dragons one spot above them. The rare win was a significant boost for the Italian side, who had not won a match since beating them in Parma in February 2021.

The Dragons did not have injured Wales forwards Will Rowlands or Leon Brown or Elliot Dee for the trip.

However, Taine Basham, the Wales back rower, was ranked eight and Joe Davies, the lock made his 100th appearance in the region.

In their last home game of the season, Lock Dave Sisi was again captain Zebre.

The Parma sunshine was brightened by the striking of the Dragons when Davies struck an early penalty. But Zebre came level with Rizzi, who had a series of forward rumbles.

After Rizzi and Davies exchanged more penalties, Junior Laloifi made an impressive break that suggested a first attempt might be possible. However, the promising attack was ended by a missed pass.

The Italians returned and this time, the Dragons line was broken as a driving maul allowed Hooker Bigi to flip over for an unconverted attempt.

Dragons almost replied in kind, but brave Italian defence saw that the ball was held over the line.

Zebre lost Rizzi, the playmaker in Zebre's half-hour match. His ankle became awkwardly bent during a tackle. Tim O'Malley was the first to step up from the bench.

As the second half was winding down, Dragons were awarded a late penalty and chose to attack out. However, the move went unfinished as Zebre were sharper at the break to preserve their 11-6 lead at halftime.

Zebre's pack had provided the Dragons with an advantage in front. Only some determined defence was able to keep the Dragons' line intact in the second period.

It was crucial, as Dragons found a cutting edge with Rio Dyer. He scythed through an Italian defence and then found replacement Jones on the outside shoulder.

Jack Dixon had been replaced by Jones at centre. Jones displayed great strength and twisted over the line to avoid being tackled. He was then dotted down in the right corner and leveled.

Davies was unable to convert the difficult conversion, but was offered another chance by the opposing side shortly after. A slick backs move freed Rosser and Dragons were ahead 18-11.

Zebre could have been levelled in a matter of seconds after O'Malley's breaking sent Enrico Lucchin racing towards the line. However, Jones performed a fantastic cover tactical to keep the ball from being ground by the Italian centre.

Dragons had their noses in front. Rosser was yellow carded for dangerous tackle. Davies followed him into the sin bin. The referee Chris Busby considered Zebre's hands at the ruck to have denied Zebre an opportunity to score and also penalized him with a penalty attempt.

Gesi was finally able to win the numbers advantage.

Zebre: Junior Laloifi; Jacopo Trulla, Erich Cronje, Enrico Lucchin, Simone Gesi; Antonio Rizzi, Chris Cook; Danilp Fischetti, Luca Bigi, Ion Neculai, Dave Sisi (capt), Andrea Zambonin, Maxime Mbanda, Jimmy Tuivaiti, Taina Fox-Matamua.

Replacements: Giampietro Ribaldi, Paolo Buonfiglio, Eduardo Bello, Gabriele Venditti, Luca Andreani, Alessandro Fusco, Tim O'Malley, Michelangelo Biodelli.

Dragons: Jordan Williams, Rio Dyer, Adam Warren, Jack Dixon, Jared Rosser, Sam Davies, Rhodri Williams; Aki Seiuli, Taylor Davies, Chris Coleman, Joe Davies, Ben Carter, Harri Keddie (capt), Ben Fry, Taine Basham.

Replacements:James Benjamin, Josh Reynolds. Mesake Doge. Huw Taylor. Lennon Greggains. Lewis Jones. Will Reed. Josh Lewis.

Referee:Chris Busby, IRFU

Assistants: Riccardo Angelucci & Dario Merli (FIR)

TMO: Stefano Roscini (FIR)

Leave a Comment