Championship Chatter: Zebre the top scorers across Round 7

Rich Dore
01 December 2019

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Best result of the round? With a coupon-busting five away wins there’s plenty to choose from, but surely you can’t look past Zebre finally uncorking the Prosecco bottle?

A 39-12 win on the road in Wales is staggering stuff, those other away wins coming for Edinburgh, Cardiff Blues, Leinster and Toyota Cheetahs as many a prediction fell flat, but we simply have to start with Forza Zebre.

Zebre run riot

“We are really happy about this victory,” said Zebre fly-half Carlo Canna after the victory. “It was our day, especially in the second half we did a great job. The first 20 minutes of that half were really hard but we knew that we must win.

“After the first three or four matches of the season we really didn’t have much confidence. But then after training during the week we improved greatly and now we just want to win a lot of matches.”

Azzurri No.10 Canna also won man of the match for an excellent display that yielded five tries at Rodney Parade, Dean Ryan’s revolution stopped firmly in its tracks.

The Italians’ last win in the Guinness PRO14 was in October 2018, 20 consecutive losses have followed but when the joyous moment finally came it came in style – this their biggest ever Championship win.

Relief at last

This then became the weekend of teams working hard and finally achieving a long-held goal. For Cheetahs the goal was different – an away win – and the wait nowhere near as long, this their fourth game on tour, but no doubt just as well celebrated.

Hawies Fourie’s men won their first three games of the campaign, all in Bloemfontein, but have since lost at Connacht, Scarlets (both narrowly) and Blues to stunt the season.

The match at the Gnoll was a slow burner with the Cheetahs eventually prevailing 18-13 and with a thrilling climax, Ospreys winning penalty after penalty near the South Africans’ line, Sintu Manjezi seeing yellow before Joy Neville finally blew time.

“We are very relieved after the win,” said Fourie. “The last three to four minutes on our own try-line really had my nerves on end. I’m very impressed with the character of the team to keep them from scoring. To stop some of those mauls on our own try-line was impressive and in general our defence was exceptional on the night.

“It wasn’t the prettiest game to watch, but that is how it goes in these conditions this time of year. The fields are wet and it is cold. It isn’t the nicest conditions to play rugby in, but you also need to win ugly at times.

“I’m just thankful that after these four games overseas we could finally get the win. We were unlucky not to beat Connacht on the previous tour. But from this we can build, and we now have a break and play Zebre on 4 January in Italy. We will take a break now and then regroup for that game.”

Cockerill gets carried away

Former Leicester Tigers front row Richard Cockerill isn’t usually the type to get carried away with things, and I guess a Tiger doesn’t change its stripes as we see in his reaction to Edinburgh’s first win in Cork since 2004.

It came courtesy of an 18-16 victory at Irish Independent Park, centre Matt Scott striking early, Tommy O’Donnell firing back for Munster but then the men from Cork the latest to be smashed by the Sledgehammer Sau.

“People that represent Munster are never poor players, young or old,” commented Cockerill. “We were delighted with the win for obvious reasons, but let’s not cover up holes in our game that we need to get better at.

“I’m a pragmatist, I’m a realist. This is a great win for us. It’s a great four points, but we all know it was in different circumstances. However, saying that we’ll definitely take the win.

“These four points could be huge for us in the shake-up, because in our conference, teams that come to Munster very rarely get anything from it. We’re very pleased with that, but circumstances fell our way. I’m a realist and a pragmatist and I understand exactly where we sit.”


Cardiff City Stadium will play host to the 2020 Guinness PRO14 Final on June 20 as one of the most exciting days in the club rugby calendar comes to Wales!

General sale tickets are available from http://bit.ly/PRO14Cardiff2020 and prices start at just £13 for concessions and £26 for adults (subject to booking fees), that’s a 15% early bird discount. Family ticket (2 adults / 2 children) prices begin at £64 and fans are encouraged to buy early to get the best value tickets.

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