Edinburgh battle to victory in Parma

Edinburgh showed grit, determination and resilience to battle to a 26-10 victory at Zebre in a match that saw momentum swing from side-to-side throughout an enthralling contest.

The capital side – who went down to 13-men for a stage following WP Nel’s sin bin and George Taylor’s late red card – scored late on through Jamie Farndale to secure the road victory in Parma.

Edinburgh went into the match without Head Coach Richard Cockerill and Blair Kinghorn as the duo remained at home following a delay to the receipt of their Covid-19 test – that subsequently confirmed as negative, however they put any distraction to one side to grind out an impressive victory at Stadio Lanfranchi.

Mark Bennett put the visitors in control with a try late in the first half, while Jaco van der Walt contributed 16 points with the boot.

Mick Kearney crossed for Zebre’s only touchdown as the hosts pulled level early in the second period, but Edinburgh survived twice being reduced to 14 men and Jamie Farndale added another try at the death.

Key moments

It was the Edinburgh who applied the early pressure and Van der Walt, who along with Kinghorn signed fresh terms with Edinburgh this week, got his side on the board with a fifth-minute penalty.

Carlo Canna squandered a relatively straightforward opportunity to bring the hosts level shortly after the midway point of the half, pulling wide of the left-hand upright from the tee, but atoned for that error by splitting the posts two minutes later.

An off-the-ball block from Pierre Schoeman on Renato Giammarioli ended the Italian number eight’s involvement but earned the Edinburgh prop no further punishment, before the visitors opened up a 10-3 half-time lead.

Bennett sent a kick downfield from his own 22-metre line, with Farndale winning the race to pounce on the ball and pop it back up for Bennett to run for the whitewash. Van der Walt made no mistake with the conversion.

Zebre wasted no time in restoring parity after the break, with Kearney being driven over the line three minutes into the second period and Canna adding the extras.

Van der Walt opened up the Edinburgh lead once more with two penalties in quick succession, but they were left breathing a sigh of relief when a Zebre maul powered its way over the line only for the ball to be held up.

They did not come away from that period of pressure completely unscathed, with Nel sent to the sin bin after an offside offence.

Edinburgh had to defend doggedly to preserve their lead a man light and they were dealt another setback when Taylor was sent off for a high tackle almost as Nel’s time in the bin was up.

The visitors weathered the storm, however, and denied Zebre a bonus point as Van der Walt added another penalty and converted Farndale’s late interception try.

Player of the match

Aside from a penalty miss when the game was all but over, Van der Walt was faultless from the tee on Saturday.

His contribution with the boot looked like being the difference between the two teams until Farndale ran in his late try.

Play of the match

Farndale was a late inclusion in the starting XV – filling the gap left by Kinghorn’s absence and Jack Blain’s move to full-back – but he played a key role as Edinburgh initially took control of the match in the closing stages of the first half.

He had the pace to chase down Bennett’s kick and then the wherewithal to offload from flat on his back, returning the ball to the arms of Bennett, who gratefully finished off the move under the posts.

live commentary 1:00 PM Saturday 23 Jan 2021

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Kick-off 1:00 PM

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