EDINBURGH head coach Alan Solomons said there were a number of contributing factors – particularly the weather, unforseen injuries and poor officiating – that led to his side’s 18-10 defeat in Italy at the weekend.
Zebre 18-10 Edinburgh
Scorers: Zebre: Tries: Bisegni, Visentin. Con: Haimona. Pens: haimona 2. Edinburgh: Try: Grant. Con: Heathcote. Pen: Heathcote..
Tries after the interval from Giulio Bisegni and Michele Visentin were enough to give strugglers Zebre a well-earned Guinness Pro12 success.
Following last week’s encouraging performance against Cardiff, this result was a real blow to Edinburgh and continued their poor run in Italy, which has seen the Scots fail to muster a win in the country since March 2013.
The hosts started strongly and took the lead after ten minutes when stand-off and new Italy international Kelly Haimona kicked a penalty.
Tom Heathcote missed the chance to draw the scores level ten minutes later when he wasted a penalty, but Edinburgh did go ahead shortly before the break. Roddy Grant did well to finish off a break in what was the first threatening foray from Solomons’ side, and Heathcote converted for a 7-3 lead.
Edinburgh had suffered the disappointment of losing Scotland internationals Ross Ford and David Denton to injury during that first half, but it didn’t stop them going further ahead at the start of the second. The points came courtesy of another Heathcote penalty, awarded after a dangerous offensive effort by Zebre that resulted in Filippo Cristiano being booked in a ruck.
Flanker Valerio Bernabò had previously been yellow carded for an infringement, and during a scrum Irish referee David Wilkinson took the number of sin-binnings to four, showing yellow cards to opposing props Dario Chistolini and Rory Sutherland.
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Haimona then cut the lead to four points with a penalty and, despite Edinburgh’s best efforts to close the match out, Zebre scored a stunning 70-metre try from Bisegni to retake the lead.
Much to the subsequent annoyance of Solomons, it was left to the television match official to decide the outcome of the game a few minutes later. The Italians were awarded a penalty in the scrum and from their lineout produced an impressive move that resulted in replacement Visentin being bundled over in the corner.
“We are disappointed because this was a game we could have won despite the wet and slippery conditions,” said Solomons.
“We struggled in the first half to obtain possession and territory because of too much indiscipline with five penalties concedeed in the first ten minutes.
“That was a heavy penalty count but we overcame it with a good try.
“We were unlucky to lose two important internationals like Ford and Denton in the first half.
“It’s unusual to concede an 80-metres try like we did today but the key factor was the second Italian try. It was dubiously awarded by the TMO although I saw the Zebre player touching the touchline.
“The decision was unlucky for us, I honestly think the try shouldn’t have been awarded.”
The try was awarded, though, and it’s a result that leaves Edinburgh eighth in the standings, 17 points off top spot and 11 clear of the bottom.
“Zebre are a tough team to play away from home but everyone’s gutted after that result,” added Matt Scott afterwards. Edinburgh must now pick themselves up ahead of Sunday’s visit of London Welsh in the European Challenge Cup.
Zabre: H Daniller, L Sarto, G Bisegni, M Pratichetti, G Toniolatti, K Haimona, B Leonard, S Vunisa, F Cristiano, V Bernabò, M Bortolami (capt), G Biagi, D Chistolini, A Manici, A Lovotti..
Edinburgh: N McLennan, D Fife, M Scott, A Strauss, T Visser, T Heathcote, S Hidalgo-Clyne, D Denton, R Grant, M Coman (capt), B Toolis, O Atkins, WP Nel, R Ford, R Sutherland.
Referee: D Wilkinson
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