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NOT QUITE THE BONUS I HAD IN MIND ...

Edinburgh Rugby: 14 (0) Zebre: 19 (9)



Well, I suppose no-one was expecting them to turn into the Hurricanes overnight.

When a club is changing the way it plays the game, there are bound to be ups and downs.  There'll be bumps in the road from time to time on the upward trajectory.

Last night's home reverse to Zebre wasn't so much a bump in the road as a yawning gap through which they tumbled, wrecking the suspension and writing the Embra bandwagon off.  

Zebre had never won in Scotland before and you could reel off the various historical stats that pointed to only one thing, namely a comfortable home victory.  The only question, surely, was how long it would take to gain the try bonus.

No-one told the visiting Italians that.  Their tigerish defence, together with the boot of the impressive Carlo Canna and a late try by Giovanbattista Venditti, gave them a famous victory.  While they don't have the ambition that Treviso are trying to play with under Keiran Crowley, you can't fault them for heart.  Having led for most of the game, save for a fifteen minute period in the final quarter, one couldn't begrudge them it.

The Gunners never really got into gear.  In a marked contrast to their last three matches, they were uninspired in attack, coughed up far too many penalties, and rather than take the points, knocked several kickable penalties to touch then committed the cardinal sin of not getting across the whitewash.  A side sitting a lowly ninth in the PRO12 should not have been complacent, yet there was an air of that in the Embramen's approach.

In an uninspiring first period, the only points came from two penalties and a dropped goal by Canna.  He added another penalty on 50 minutes and things were starting to look ominous for the pointless hosts.  Might they actually lose this one?

It seemed like the Embramen had finally woken up on the hour and normal service had been resumed.  First, Ford crossed off an attacking maul on 63 minutes, well converted by King Blairhorn.  A few minutes later, another member of the front row union and product of the legendary McKane Park rugby nursery Murray McCallum smashed over, this time SHC adding the extras for a narrow 14-12 advantage going into the last minute.

Having underwhelmed observers for most of the match yet still found their noses in front at the death, the Gunners should have shut up shop, taken the points and put this one down to experience.

They didn't.  Zebre intercepted an Embra pass and put Venditti over for a try on 77 minutes, Canna's conversion leaving the final score 19-14.  

The Gunners are currently eighth in the league, but already sit eight points short of the Scarlets and Blues, tied in the sixth Euro qualification slot.  If this is not to be yet another transitional season, they need to get their act together.  And fast.