Edinburgh Rugby continued their winning run at Murrayfield with a hard-fought victory over Zebre at Murrayfield this evening, edging out the visitors 25-23.
There was a familiar look to the scoreboard as both full-back Greig Tonks [pictured] and prop WP Nel replicated their try-scoring exploits from last weekend’s victory over Treviso, while man of the match Cornell Du Preez also powered over in the second half.
Stand-off Harry Leonard kicked the rest of the points for the hosts as they completed back-to-back victories over Italian opposition to move into seventh place at the autumn break.
The home side spurned an early chance to take the lead when Leonard’s penalty drifted past the post inside the first ten minutes.
Both sides struggled to gain control of the match early on, with the Italians dominating possession and territory.
Zebre took advantage of that early dominance and took the lead thanks to a penalty from stand-off Luciano Orquera, as Solomons’ side infringed at the breakdown (0-3).
Edinburgh Rugby struck back with a well-worked try as Leonard picked out Dougie Fife and the winger fed Tonks, who was on hand to score his second try in as many games.
Leonard’s touchline conversion sailed narrowly past the near post, but the hosts had the lead (5-3).
Edinburgh added to their lead when prop Nel crashed over following concerted pressure on the Zebre line to cap an impressive spell for Solomons' side.
Leonard added the extras and it was 12-3 after half an hour.
However, it was proving to be an end-to-end contest and Zebre struck back shortly after, with wing Giovanbattista Venditti causing havoc, before opposite wing Leonardo Sarto snuck over in the corner after consultation with the assistant referee.
Orquera’s conversion narrowed the gap after half an hour (12-10).
With half-time approaching the visitors piled pressure on the home side’s line, and that pressure told on the stroke of the interval.
Sarto capitalised on some slack tackling cross at the corner, with Orquera adding the extras and ensuring the visitors held a five-point half-time advantage.
The hosts ejoyed a strong start to the second half inside the Zebre 22 before Leonard added another penalty to reduce the arrears (15-17).
Orquera was in fine form for the Italians and they battered the Edinburgh Rugby line, only to be denied thanks to a last-gasp tackle from Tonks.
The full-back pinned the visitors back with a penalty, which the home pack rumbled towards the Zebre line, before the impressive Du Preez crashed over.
Leonard’s kick, another from the touchline, sailed between the uprights to give Solomons’ side the lead (22-17).
With the hosts pressing, desperate Zebre defending kept them at bay, with former All Black scrum-half Brendon Leonard making a number of valuable interventions.
Orquera and Leonard exchanged a further pair of penalties going into the final ten minutes, as the flow of the match was interrupted by a number of replacements and stoppages.
The Italian kicked another late penalty to bring the visitors within two points late on, before narrowly missing with a drop-goal that would have won the match.
Edinburgh Rugby: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Joaquin Dominguez, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Jack Cuthbert, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Sean Kennedy; 1 Wicus Blaauw, 2 Aleki Lutui, 3 Willem Nel, 4 Grant Gilchrirst, 5 Izak Van Der Westhuizen, 6 Tomas Leonardi, 7 Roddy Grant (captain), 8 Cornell Du Preez. Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand on for Lutui (68’), 17 Alasdair Dickinson on for Blaauw (50’), 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Sean Cox on for Van Der Westhuizen (40’), 20 Ross Rennie on for Leonardi (68’), 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Sam Beard, 23 Lee Jones.
Zebre: 15 Dion Berryman, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Brendon Leonard; 1 Salvatore Perugini, 2 Davide Giazzon, 3 Dario Chistolini, 4 Marco Bortolami (captain), 5 Quentin Geldenhuys, 6 Fillippo Cristiano, 7 Emiliano Caffini, 8 Samuela Vunisa. Replacements: 16 Luciano Leibson on for Chistolini (71’), 17 Andrea Di Marchi on for Perugini (68’), 18 David Ryan, 19 Michael Van Vuren on for Bortolami (68’), 20 Andrea Manici on for Giazzon (55’), 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 David Odiete on for Sarto (68’), 23 Giulio Toniolatti on for Venditti (60’).
|17||Andrea De Marchi|
|19||Michael Van Vuren|
|5||Neath Swansea Ospreys||19||11||7||1||56|
|10||Newport Gwent Dragons||19||6||12||1||31|
|Zebre Rugby||26||v||13||Edinburgh Rugby|
|Glasgow Warriors||27||v||9||Ulster Rugby|
|Cardiff Blues||17||v||13||Llanelli Scarlets|
|Connacht Rugby||23||v||32||Munster Rugby|
|Leinster Rugby||62||v||7||Benetton Treviso|