Visits to Italy have often been dangerous affairs for Edinburgh, especially when they are weak. But despite being without ten of the Scotland internationals, Mike Blair’s side made light of the trip to Parma on Saturday as they picked up their first away win of the season to move into the top half of the URC table.
The bonus try point was in the bag well before half-time and two second-half touchdowns followed to make it six tries in total for the Scottish side at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi. Bottom club Zebre looked a pale shadow of the team that took the Sharks and Leinster close in their first two URC outings this season, and their cause was not helped by MJ Pelser’s first-half withdrawal with a shoulder. – contact with Nick Haining’s head on the ball. But they were already 19-0 down by the time they were reduced to 14 men and would have lost a lot more had they not slowed the game down as much as possible.
Head coach Blair was fully satisfied with the way his players went about their business right from the start and somewhat unhappy with Zebre’s delaying tactics. “I thought when we were on it today, we were really good,” he said. “This was a Zebre team that scored a lot of tries at home and that was a team that has improved over the last six months. Coming out with the number of guys we didn’t have available was really impressive.
“After the break the game was so stop-start. I don’t know how you stop this. It seemed like the Zebre front row collapsed at every opportunity – I don’t know if they struggled or if it was a tactic. On top of the four water breaks you have in a game, it slows everything down and probably cuts them down as a show.”
The second half was really sloppy at best, but the first 40 frees more than made up for it. It didn’t take Edinburgh more than a few minutes to get into their stride and once they did they were soon on the scoresheet with hooker Adam McBurney freeing up after a Henry Immelman break.
Jamie Hodgson got his second try from a maul and then Wes Goosen celebrated his debut by claiming his third. When McBurney got the second of a line drive, the game was as good as over.
Emiliano Boffelli, who converted three of his four attempts, was booked just before half-time for a team offence. But Zebre couldn’t take advantage of getting back on level terms and the first score of the second half was an Immelman try.
The home side finally got into the game after that, scoring through Alessandro Fusco from a tap-in penalty and then Luca Rizzoli from close range. Currie added a sixth try for the Scots, converted by substitute Charlie Savala, before Jacopo Trulla had the final say for the home side with his third try. Geronimo Prisciantelli added two conversions for the home side.
“It was great that Wes got his first game for the club,” Blair said of summer signing Goosen. “He’s been pretty frustrated at the start of his season with his injuries, but I thought he did some really positive things.”