EDINBURGH suffered another bout of travel sickness in Italy yesterday, losing to Zebre away for the third season in a row and seeing their unbeaten start to the season vanish in the process. You have to go back to March 2013 for the capital side’s last win at the home of the Guinness Pro12 whipping boys.
Having won their first four games, this was Edinburgh’s chance to go to the top of the table. They blew it and head coach Alan Solomons did not mince his words afterward.
“We only have ourselves to blame. We were poor, they played well,” the Edinburgh boss said. “There are no excuses. The travel was excellent, the staff were excellent, the players just didn’t perform on the day.
“We now have the prospect of a Connacht side, next weekend, who are firing well, who only had one player missing for the World Cup, and that will be a very big ask for us.”
It was Zebre’s first Pro12 win of the season. Fly-half Carlo Canna, on his return from Italy’s World Cup campaign, chipped in with a 14-point haul to get Zebre off the mark, with Dion Berryman scoring their only try. Hamish Watson dotted down for Edinburgh, with Nathan Fowles adding two penalties, but it was not enough for the Scottish side. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and Blair Kinghorn also missed penalties at the death to mean they leave Italy without even a losing bonus point.
Edinburgh, who lost 18-10 on their last visit to Parma in 2014, started well and kept Zebre penned inside their own 22 after Jack Cuthbert’s initial break from deep put the hosts on the back foot.
Scrum-half Fowles slotted a penalty on eight minutes, but Canna replied with three of his own to give Zebre a deserved 9-3 lead after 26 minutes. Zebre, who welcomed seven of their World Cup stars, crumbled just before the break though and Edinburgh took advantage to snatch an 11-9 lead at the interval.
First, Fowles pulled it back to 9-6 with his second penalty and then Watson made the breakthrough, darting over after Phil Burleigh’s break to put the visitors back in front. Fowles missed the conversion.
Zebre drove forward with intent after the restart and wing Berryman eventually crashed over after 54 minutes as Edinburgh buckled under the pressure on their own line. Canna added the conversion and then a penalty soon after to put the Italian side 19-11 up.
Zebre: Van Zyl; Berryman, Visentin, Pratichetti, L Sarto; Canna, Violi; Lovotti, Manici, Chistolini, Geldenhuys, Biagi, Cook, Meyer, van Schalkwyk. Subs used: Burgess, De Marchi, Fabiani, Ceccarelli, Bernabo, J Sarto. Not used: Palazzani, Padovani.
Edinburgh: Cuthbert; Brown, Helu, Strauss, Hoyland; Burleigh, Fowles; Sutherland, Cochrane, Andress, Bresler, McKenzie, Coman, Watson, Manu. Subs used: Kinghorn, Fife, Hidalgo-Clyne, Dell, Turner, Berghan, A Toolis, Du Preez.
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland). Attendance: 7,000.