by Dan Cope
ITALIAN side Zebre ended their 100% losing record with a dominant 12-39 victory over fellow Guinness Pro14 side Dragons at Rodney Parade.
Zebre started strongly with Dragons conceding three scrums early on and Zebre dominating the territory.
The Italian side’s hard work paid off inside the first ten minutes when Renato Giammarioli burst through the Dragons defence. A neat offload found Carlo Canna who poked the ball through to winger Jamie Elliot who scored his fourth try in the Pro14 this season. Italian International, Canna, then stepped up to grab the subsequent conversion.
However, Dragons bounced back after 17 minutes. Some great passing play saw Jack Dixon offload to Harry Keddie who grabbed his second try of the season. Arwel Robson kicked between the posts to draw Dragons level.
Zebre regained the lead soon after thanks to a penalty from fly-half Canna. Canna scored his second penalty four minutes later after Dragons tight head Lloyd Fairbrother was deemed to have been offside.
On the stroke of half time, Zebre full back, Edoardo Padovani, was penalised for failing to release the ball and Robson slotted the penalty home to make the score 7-13 going into half time.
Zebre burst out of the starting blocks in the second half with Canna’s simple ball finding Padovani. Dragons were caught short defensively and another converted try extended the lead for Michael Bradley’s side.
Zebre scored their third try of the game after 50 minutes after some terrific build play in the middle of the park. Centre Giulio Bisegni weaved through the Dragons defence and found Marcello Violi, whose clever offload played in Tommaso Boni to score another converted try for the Guinness Pro14’s bottom side.
Zebra continued to dominate proceedings and were unlucky to score another after another powerful run by Bisgeni was halted by the Dragons front row.
However, Zebre achieved their bonus point after a terrific pass from Canna picked out winger Charlie Walker out wide. He powered over the line to get on the scoresheet, although Canna failed to add to his points total.
Straight after the restart, Dragons’ 20 year old flanker, Taine Basham continued his fine try scoring form. Part of Wayne Pivac’s first Wales squad, Basham drove over the line to get his seventh try of the season. However, New Zealander Jacob Botica failed to convert, leaving the score at 12-32.
Zebre wrapped the game thanks to flanker Maxine Mbanda. The Italian exploited yet another gap in the Dragons defence to claim another try for Zebre. Michaelangleo Biondelli converted to round off the scoring at 12-39.