Zebre up­set the o dds and leave Ho dge nurs­ing a bad headache

The Herald - Herald Sport - - RUGBY UNION -

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

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