Zebre Parma secure late draw with Cardiff

Zebre Parma secure late draw with Cardiff

Zebre Parma claimed a converted try five minutes into stoppage time to salvage a 22-22 draw against United Rugby Championship opponents Cardiff in northern Italy.

Replacement lock Leonard Krumov touched down following relentless pressure in the game’s final play, with fly-half Geronimo Prisciantelli’s conversion levelling things up.

A week on from ending a 28-game losing run after beating South African side the Sharks, Zebre went close to another success that would have meant them passing last season’s entire league points total in only their fifth match of the season.

Cardiff looked to have done enough as they overturned a one-point deficit during the final 14 minutes through a Tinus de Beer penalty and wing Mason Grady claiming his team’s third try.

De Beer also converted scores by centre Ben Thomas and number eight Lopeti Timani, highlighting Zebre’s weakness in that department after Prisciantelli and Jacopo Trulla missed 11 points between them off the tee.

Centres Franco Smith and Luca Morisi scored first-half tries tries for the home side, with Prisciantelli adding a conversion and penalty, before Zebre’s late show denied Cardiff an away win.

Zebre predictably stared brightly on the back of beating Sharks, but Cardiff weathered early pressure and struck from their first concerted attack.

Thomas was prominent in build-up play before finishing strongly, with De Beer’s conversion opening up a seven-point lead before Prisciantelli drifted a 35-metre penalty chance wide.

Prisciantelli was again off-target five minutes later, wasting Zebre’s territorial dominance that they had established through impressive work by flankers Giacomo Ferrari and Iacopo Bianchi.

And scrum-half Alessandro Fusco was then yellow-carded by Scottish referee Mike Adamson for a dangerous tackle on Cardiff’s Wales international back Grady, increasing the home side’s degree of difficulty.

Wing Trulla completed a trio of penalty misses for Zebre, but they rocked Cardiff by scoring two tries in three minutes just before half-time.

Smith pounced for the opener after Zebre battered away at Cardiff’s defence from close range, then his midfield partner Morisi struck following a flowing move that featured a key assist from wing Simone Gesi.

Wales forwards Corey Domachowski and Thomas Young went on as early second-half replacements, with Cardiff monopolising possession, and their reward came via a close-range effort from Timani that De Beer converted.

Prisciantelli edged Zebre back in front through a 62nd-minute penalty, yet it proved short-lived as De Beer struck from close range and made it 17-15 midway through the final quarter.

Grady’s score then looked to have broken Zebre’s resistance, but an admirable fightback reaped its reward when Krumov smashed through a tiring Cardiff defence.

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