South Wales Echo



THE Scarlets comfortabl­y completed their Italian job as they ran out 41-24 winners against Zebre in Parma. It was loose in the opening 15 minutes and both teams had their chances to attack the opposition line.

Dwayne Peel’s side opened the scoring in the 15th minute after a half-break from young centre Joe Roberts led to a Zebre infringeme­nt, with Rhys Patchell knocking over the three-pointer.

But the Welsh side were far from having it their own way and the hosts actually saw more of the ball and enjoyed more territory in the first 40 minutes, despite how the half would play out.

Their best spell came around the 20-minute mark when they were camped in the Scarlets half for a number of minutes, coming within a metre or two of scoring before replacemen­t scrum-half Guglielmo Palazzani was bundled into touch.

Then, against the run of play, came the first try. Carlo Canna turned the ball over around the halfway line and red jerseys shipped it wide to Gareth Davies. He offloaded to Corey Baldwin, who skinned two Zebre defenders and cantered in from 35 metres. Patchell converted.

Zebre fly-half Canna hit back from the tee shortly after, but once again the hosts gave their visitors a bit of a gift in the 28th minute.

They overthrew a line-out just inside the Scarlets half and some nice hands from Tomas Lezana and Patchell created acres of space out wide.

Accurate passing put winger Ryan Conbeer in space and he finished well out wide, despite a high tackle from opposite man Giovanni D’Onofrio. Patchell converted from the touchline.

Just after the half-hour mark, Zebre were masters of their own downfall again. Scott Williams ripped possession away from the hosts in their own 22 and a clever kick from Johnny McNicholl led to Canna walking the ball into touch five metres from his own line.

A clean line-out saw Patchell show good patience before zipping a pass to McNicholl, who picked a lovely line to reach over the line between the sticks.

The Welsh fly-half kicked the conversion and the Scarlets led 24-3 at the break.

Zebre dominated the 10 minutes after half-time, with No. 8 Renato Giammariol­i coming to the fore. But they were wasteful in the Scarlets 22 and coughed up possession in dangerous areas. And it was another of their errors that led to the Scarlets’ bonus-point try.

A high ball was spilled on the hosts’ 10-metre line and Lezana latched on to it before carrying deeper into the Zebre half.

A number of offloads created plenty of space out wide before Sam Lousi played the old one-two with Sione Kalamafoni to get the easiest of walkins on the far side.

But in the 54th minute, Zebre finally capitalise­d on their field position. Canna took advantage of some woeful defending to breeze between two would-be tacklers, drift away from another and step McNicholl before scoring a lovely solo try. He winded himself in the process and full-back Michelange­lo Biondelli stepped up to convert.

Four minutes later the hosts were in again. The visitors spilled counteratt­ack ball and two carries put Zebre deep into the visitors’ half. Canna dropped a lovely cross-kick in behind the Welsh side and Biondelli raced on to it to score. The Italian fly-half converted from the touchline.

But capping a whirlwind 10 minutes, flanker Lezana crossed from close range to dampen Zebre’s momentum and effectivel­y end the fightback, with replacemen­t Sam Costelow’s conversion making it 3617.

Highly-rated Carwyn Tuipulotu produced a powerful finish for his first Scarlets try eight minutes from time, and Zebre winger Giovanni D’Onofrio walked in after some late pressure, but it did not affect the outcome.

The Scarlets claimed their first away win of the season, providing a ray of optimism after a bleak few weeks for Welsh rugby.

 ?? ?? Blade Thomson tries to reach the Zebre line
Picture: Huw Evans Agency
Blade Thomson tries to reach the Zebre line Picture: Huw Evans Agency

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