Zebre upset the o dds and leave Ho dge nursing a bad headache
DUNCAN HODGE was odds on to get his fourth consecutive win as Edinburgh coach last night against opponents who had not won in the PRO12 so far this season. Instead, Zebre claimed the points with a dogged performance, while Edinburgh were every bit as bad as they had been during their worst displays under previous coach Alan Solomons.
It took the home team an hour to score, by which time Zebre were 12 points to the good. And, after two converted tries looked to have swung the match in Edinburgh’s favour, the Italians hit back with a late score of their own.
The absence of the injured WP Nel was undoubtedly felt in the set piece, but this was a poor showing by the Scottish side in more than just the scrum. I nd i v id u a l s showed up wel l , particularly substitute Cornell du Preez, but as a team Edinburgh fell well below the standard they have set in recent weeks.
“We’re absolutely gutted,” Hodge said. “We were nowhere near good enough in a lot of areas, and it’s not what we expect after the last three weeks. We got back in the game and then at the end we were just naive.”
A Carlo Canna penalty gave the Italians a quick lead, and although Edinburgh were soon into their stride, with both Bill Mata and Allan Dell featuring prominently as the pressure built, they were unable to hit back throughout a frustrating first half in which they suffered several injury problems. After 25 minutes a second Canna penalty made it 6-0, and then, after Tommaso Castello had missed a penalty, a Canna drop-goal made it 9-0 on half-time.
There was no need for Edinburgh to panic at that stage, for all that their pack had been second best for much of the first period. Zebre have frequently thrown a lot into the first half and more of games before fading, and the key to grinding them down is to keep up the pressure in a disciplined fashion.
That was exactly what Hodge’s team tried to do in the opening stages of the second half, and they came close to breaking their duck when Phil Burleigh broke up the left. A knock-on by Dell, however, ended the attack with the try line in sight.
When Canna made it 12-0 in the 50th minute, it was clear that something drastic needed to be done by Edinburgh if they were to get back into the match.
Five minutes later, Edinburgh were awarded a penalty just inside the Zebre 22. It was the ideal chance to get off the mark by going for the three points, but instead they went for the lineout. Then when a drive was halted illegally they pursued the same tactic.
Again Zebre resorted to foul play to stop the drive, and again Jason Tovey sent the ball into touch. This time the lineout was lost, allowing Zebre to lift the siege with a clearance kick.
The next time the chance came for a kick at goal, just as the game entered its final quarter, Edinburgh again went for the lineout. This time the drive was perfectly executed, and Ross Ford peeled off the back to touch down in the right corner. Blair Kinghorn converted and the comeback was well and truly on.
The full-back had moved up to stand-off by that time, with Glenn Bryce coming on and going to 15 after Tovey came off. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne had also come off the bench as Edinburgh sought to speed things up, and the scrum-half came close to the line before another substitute, Murray McCallum, finished off the move close to the posts. Hidalgo- Clyne added the conversion himself to put Edinburgh in the lead.
With quarter of an hour to play and only two points in it, the game remained in the balance. Then, with just three minutes left, it tipped firmly back in Zebre’s favour, when a broken-play attack down the left wing ended with Giovanbattista Venditti crossing to touch down.
Canna converted, and that elusive first win of the season had been achieved.
Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: Cons:
Ford, McCallum. Kinghorn, Hidalgo-Clyne.
Zebre: Try: Pens: Edinburgh: Zebre: Referee: Attendance: Con: Drop goal:
Venditti. Canna. Canna 3. Canna.
B Kinghorn; D Hoyland, C Dean, P Burleigh, T Brown; J Tovey (G Bryce 62), S Kennedy (S Hidalgo-Clyne 61); A Dell, S McInally (R Ford 13), F Arregui (M McCallum 49), B Toolis, G Gilchrist, W Mata, J Hardie (C du Preez 45), M Bradbury. Unused substitutes: J Cosgrove, F McKenzie, M Allen.
E Padovani; G Bisegni, T Boni, T Castello (M Pratichetti 76), G Venditti; C Canna, M Violi; A Lovotti, T D’Apice, P Ceccarelli (D Chistolini 47), G Biagi, Q Geldenhuys, M Mbanda, J Meyer, A van Schalkwyk (F Ruzza 53)). Unused substitutes: M Ceciliano, A de Marchi, D Minnie, G Palazzani, G D’Onofrio. M Mitrea (Italy).
TOO LITTLE TOO LATE: Ross Ford dives over in the corner to open the scoring for Edinburgh. Picture: SNS