Zebre blitzkrieg too much for Kings
PRO14 REPORT: Zebre recorded their first win of the season with a 43-17 demolition of a pitiful Southern Kings outfit in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Zebre outscored the Kings by six tries to two - three of their tries coming in the first quarter.
That blitzkrieg allowed the visitors to take a 22-3 lead into the half-time break.
Despite a brief period of resistance just short of the hour mark, the error-prone and undisciplined Kings were never in the game.
The Italian outfit enjoyed the dream start - as they scored two tries within the first six minutes against their South African opponents, with Tommaso Castello and Mattia Bellini crossing early on.
Renato Giammarioli and Tommaso Boni added further scores as the visitors raced into a 29-3 lead - a Pieter Steyn de Wet penalty being the only response from the Kings.
But the second half saw Godlen Masimla and Luvuyo Pupuma touch down for the hosts, who fought their way back into the match to reduce the deficit to 12 points.
But an astute dummy run from Marcelo Violi created space out wide for Giulio Bisegni, who grabbed Zebre's fifth before Jacabo Sarto inflicted another at the death.
In a crunch encounter, Zebre went into the game a point better off than their South African counterparts, as both sides were looking to earn their first win of the season.
After extensive TMO analysis, Tommaso Castello was deemed to have grounded the ball four minutes into the game despite the efforts of Pupuma and Reynier Van Rooyen.
Carlo Canna coolly converted, before Zebre raced into the King's 22 after the re-start for Mattia Bellini to grab his third try of the season.
The Kings replied through Steyn de Wet, who marked his Pro14 debut by slotting through the posts at the first opportunity, before Masimla and Pupuma crossed.
But Zebre came roaring again, working the ball wide and opening up the King's defence for Giammarioli to finish well in the far corner, with Canna adding the extras.
Boni's third try off a perfectly constructed try off the line-out appeared to put clear daylight between the two sides, with Canna making no mistakes from the tee at 3-29.
But, within minutes after the re-start, Dries Van Schalkwyk - who enjoyed a five-year playing stint at Zebre - intercepted from midfield and charged into Zebre's 22.
The South African's grubber was latched onto by Masimla who restored hope for the South African newcomers as Steyn de Wet converted at 10-29.
And the momentum stayed with the home side, as the Kings recycled quickly to allow Pupuma to charge over from close range as Steyn de Wet - fulfilling the kicking duties for the injured Kurt Coleman - made it three from three at 17-29.
But Zebre responded through Giulio Bisegni, who bagged his side's fifth try after a well-worked scrum deep in Kings' half.
And Sarto dotted under the posts for Zebre's sixth with a minute remaining after an impressive one-handed offload from Castello to secure Zebre's first win of the campaign and leave the Kings still searching for theirs.
For the Southern Kings:
Tries: Masimla, Pupuma
Cons: De Wet 2
Pen: De Wet
Tries: Castello, Bellini 2, Giammarioli, Bisegni, Sarto
Cons: Canna 4, Bordoli
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Sibusiso Sithole, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Victor Sekekete, 6 Khaya Majola, 5 Dries van Schalkwyk, 4 Stephen Greeff, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 Michael Willemse (captain), 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Bobby de Wee, 20 Freddy Ngoza, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Oliver Zono, 23 Jacques Nel.
Zebre: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Giulio Bisegni, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Tommaso Castello (captain), 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Giovanni Licata, 6 Johan Meyer, 5 George Biagi, 4 David Sisi, 3 Roberto Tenga, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements 16 Sami Panico, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Jacopo Sarto, 20 Derrick Minnie, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Serafin Bordoli, 23 Ciaran Gaffney
Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland) Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)