Young team win Zebre opener

Matt Currie scored a try on his first Edinburgh Rugby start as Richard Cockerill's side claimed an opening Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup triumph courtesy of an improved second-half display against Zebre.

The Italians deservedly led at the break at BT Murrayfield but a youthful Edinburgh team secured a 24-18 victory after dominating the second half.

The impressive Eroni Sau notched the first try of the game for Edinburgh before Andrea Lovotti replied, and Carlo Canna's kicking had Zebre six points ahead at the break.

But the hosts scored tries from skipper Luke Crosbie and 20-year-old centre Currie as the home team pushed their opponents back for the bulk of the second half, before Johan Meyer bagged a last-gasp consolation try.

Cockerill named a squad with an average age of 24, with 19-year-old Ben Muncaster making his debut among a raft of young Scottish-qualified players.

Canna bagged an early penalty before Sau struck in the 12th minute following a fine team move. Mike Willemse broke off a maul following a line-out on the right and Edinburgh worked it out to the opposite flank where Blair Kinghorn fed Sau to go over in the corner.

Nathan Chamberlain, the 21-year-old stand-off, produced a brilliant conversion but Zebre responded magnificently.

Stand-off Canna kicked a penalty and was generally dictating play, while number eight Renato Giammarioli was making serious headway through the Edinburgh ranks.

The visitors got their first try in the 26th minute when Lovotti powered over from close range after a penalty kick into the corner. Canna put them 13-7 ahead.

Edinburgh were a changed side after the break and produced a controlled display with the penalty count going in their favour.

Sau was instrumental in Edinburgh's second try, bursting past six defenders after getting the ball from Crosbie following a line-out. Jamie Hodgson was just held up but Crosbie went over.

Kinghorn was stopped near the line and Sau came close again after a pass over the top from Chamberlain, but Pierre Bruno's tackle put him into touch near the corner.

Currie burst on to Chris Dean's close-range pass and over the line to extend the lead and could have had another try if Damien Hoyland had released him.

Chamberlain added a late penalty to his three conversions and the clock had gone past the 80-minute mark when Meyer finished off a slick breakaway to reduce the deficit.


Player of the Match

There were some impressive displays on both sides but Zebre faded after the break.

However, Crosbie produced a captain's performance to steer his side to success in their Rainbow Cup opener and was awarded the individual honour.


Play of the Match

Sau lived up to his 'Sledgehammer' nickname as he bludgeoned and swiped his way through six tackles after collecting the ball from Crosbie before the skipper ultimately went over.

live commentary 8:15 PM Friday 23 Apr 2021

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Kick-off 8:15 PM

Edinburgh

Zebre

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