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Hallam Amos ensured his return to the Newport Gwent Dragons starting line-up was a happy one as his two tries helped his side maintain their perfect record at Rodney Parade this season with a 30-7 victory.
A try either side of half-time for 19-year-old Amos, one from Lewis Evans and 15 points from the boot of Jason Tovey did the damage to hand Newport their 100th win on their home ground.
The Dragons came into the game searching for their third home RaboDirect PRO12 victory of the season having already beaten two of last year’s top-four sides in Ulster and the Scarlets.
But they faced an Italian side who had won their first ever RaboDirect PRO12 match on their last trip to Wales, a 30-25 victory at Cardiff Arms Park just two weeks ago.
And it was Zebre who had the first opportunity to get points on the board with a penalty after eight minutes following a darting run from Brendon Leonard, but Luciano Orquera couldn’t convert as his attempt came back off the post.
Shortly afterwards the hosts had a penalty of their own and Tovey stepped up to give the Welsh region a 3-0 lead with 13 minutes played.
The fly-half then made an excellent break five minutes later, putting Zebre on the back-foot and after the visitors conceded another penalty within striking distance, Tovey made it 6-0 with another accurate kick.
The Italians were threatening to get on the scoreboard and wing Leonardo Sarto was all but in to score down in the corner but a superb try-saving tackle from Dan Evans denied him midway through the half.
Tovey nailed another penalty just after the half-hour following a scrum offence from Zebre to make it 9-0 and soon after Adam Hughes came off his wing to devastating effect, only for the final pass to go astray.
The Zebre set-piece was starting to show a few cracks and right on half-time, after they made a hash of the ball at the base of a scrum, Amos pounced to grab the game’s first try, converted by Tovey to give the hosts a 16-0 lead at the break.
After a lacklustre start to the second half the Dragons were again the first to strike as Amos added his second try following some superb work from British & Irish Lion Toby Faletau.
Breaking off the back of a scrum on halfway, Faletau passed the ball to Tovey who was able to offload to Amos under pressure and the winger did the rest to finish in the corner.
Tovey added the extras to take his personal tally for the night to 13 points and that left half an hour for the Welsh side to grab the bonus point.
But it was Zebre who were next to score a try as Sarto went over in the corner on the hour for his side’s first points of the evening, with Orquera adding the conversion to make the score 23-7.
Any chance of a comeback though was dashed when Mauro Bergamasco was sent to the sin bin and Lewis Evans scored try number three for the hosts soon after, made possible thanks to a huge drive from the Dragons scrum.
The Dragons threatened late on camping just five metres out from the Zebre line but they couldn’t make their dominance tell as they fell just short of the elusive fourth try.