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NARROW SQUEAK OVER ZEBRE

Edinburgh Rugby: 25 (12) Zebre: 23 (17)



Last season, Edinburgh downed this evening's visitors 41-10 in the equivalent fixture.  41-10.  Admittedly that was before they reached terminal velocity in the famous Bradley freefall, but all the same...

So while it is great to get a home win, even against the league's weakest club, and yes, Edinburgh put out a weakened XV due to injuries and the imminent Autumn internationals, perspective is required.  Give Zebre their due, they nearly turned the Scarlets over last week so are much improved themselves.  But this is a side that has only won once since joining the league last season.  There is a long, long way to go for the Embramen, despite (currently) sitting a vaguely respectable seventh in the table as a result of the win.  Already, there is a chunky gap between the top five and the also-rans

In front of a whisker over 3,000 supporters, the Gunners scored three tries to two and played much of the rugby.  But they had a try by the increasingly impressive Man of the Match Cornell du Preez in the second half, together with a missed enemy dropped goal late on, to thank for their narrow victory.  Joining the back rower on the score sheet were Greig Tonks and try scoring sensation WP 'WP' Nel.  There were some useful individual performances overall and what a joy it was to see Ross 'Rossco' Rennie return late on for a bit of a hit out.  But the whole remains somewhat less than the sum of its parts.

Nothing much of note happened in the early stages until Orquera put the visitors ahead with a penalty on 16 minutes after Edinburgh had conceded at a defensive breakdown. That seemed to galvanise the hosts, however, and Tonks scored a good try in the corner after excellent work by Fife at the end of the first quarter. 5-3 Gunners.

And Edinburgh were back on the attack right away, this time close in.  After the pack had taken scrum ball against the head, Nel popped up to cross in the ensuing melee, Leonard's conversion putting the Embramen 12-3 up on the half hour.

It doesn't matter what level of rugby you're playing at, the last thing you want to do after scoring is to hand the initiative back to the opposition right away.  Sadly, that is exactly what the Gunners did.  Tommaso Iannone duly scored his side's first try of the evening on 32 minutes and the Italians kept the pressure on after that.  Eventually, it told as winger Sarto nipped over in the corner on 39 minutes, Orquera's conversion giving Zebre a handy 17-12 lead at the break.

Harry got the hosts on the board first after the interval, with a penalty on 43 minutes - 17-15.  Edinburgh defended well during a period of concerted enemy pressure for a 10 minute period. Then it was the Gunners' turn to exert a bit of pressure in the enemy red zone and after taking a maul on close-in, the ball was moved wide for du Preez to score and Harry to convert superbly on 56 minutes.  22-17 and perhaps things were turning Edinburgh's way, especially when Harry knocked another penalty over on 63 minutes to nudge the hosts more than a converted try ahead and towards safety. 

But Zebre kept at it and were rewarded with a brace of Orquera penalties on 66 and 74 minutes to set up a grandstand finish.  They missed a late effort at the drop, though, and the Gunners secured their second straight home win, albeit with a margin that was much too close for comfort. 

And the next fixture is a trip to Ravenhill!  Some improvement required for that, one feels.