SECOND-HALF tries from Giulio Bisegni and Michele Visentin earned Guinness PRO12 strugglers Zebre an 18-10 win over Edinburgh.
The visitors side were without the injured Grant Gilchrist, Hamish Watson and Cornell du Preez and found the absences too much to overcome in Italy as they slipped to defeat at the Stadio XXV Aprile.
Edinburgh, after the good performance against Cardiff last weekend, continue their negative streak in Italy which has seen the Scots without a win there since March 2013.
Zebre started strongly and demonstrated some quick handling. Edinburgh defence held up but the visitors conceded a penalty which Zebre stand-off Kelly Haimona – who debuted for the Azzurri in the autumn internationals – goaled with the help of the post to give the hosts the lead after ten minutes.
Edinburgh struggled to play in the Italian 22-metre zone, giving away territory to Zebre because of indiscipline. Tom Heathcote also missed a penalty kick on 20 minutes that would have drawn the sides level.
Zebre played better in the open field in a game which struggled to flow due because of both fussy refereeing and mistakes caused by a slippery ball.
The Italians’ pack continually put pressure on Edinburgh’s big men, causing them difficulty both in the scrum and at lineouts, with a couple of throws stolen.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
Edinburgh couldn’t take advantage of the extra man when a yellow card was shown to flanker Valerio Bernabò, struggling to advance over the gainline, but went ahead a minute before half-time with the try from Roddy Grant, who finished off a break in what was the first dangerous action of Alan Solomons’ side. Heathcote converted to stretch Edinburgh’s lead to 7-3.
Edinburgh, who lost Scottish internationals Ross Ford and David Denton to injury during the game, further increased their lead at the beginning of the second half with another Heathcote penalty by Heathcote, awarded after a dangerous offensive effort by Zebre which cost them another yellow card, with Filippo Cristiano booked in a ruck.
During a scrum Irish referee David Wilkinson took the number of sin-binnings to four, with a couple of yellow cards shown to opponent props Dario Chistolini and Rory Sutherland before Haimona cut the lead to four points with a penalty.
Edinburgh’s handling improved as the game went on and they tried to close the match out with 20 minutes left with a couple of good attacks. But Zebre were intelligent in their counter attacks, scoring a stunning 70-metre try from Bisegni that took Zebre back into the lead.
It was left to the television match official to decides the outcome of the game a few minutes later: Zebre were awarded a penalty in the scrum and from their lineout produced a great move that resulted in replacement winger Visentin being bundled over in the corner.
Edinburgh still had ten minutes to rescue the game and the result stayed in doubt thanks to two long and dangerous multiphases by the visitors.
But these were well controlled by the excellent Italian defence, a key to the Zebre victory.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS