Blues do enough against Zebre
PRO14 REPORT: The boot of Jarrod Evans proved the difference as Cardiff Blues won a war of attrition with Zebre to record their third win on the spin in the Pro14.
There wasn't a point scored in the second period at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi but Evans' penalty on the stroke of half-time bolstered Owen Lane's first-half try and that proved enough for the visitors to reign in Parma.
The hosts turned the screw on their visitors early on with a succession of driving mauls but despite twice making their way to within a stone's throw of the try line multiple times, the Blues held firm.
The early throes of the first period continued to follow that pattern, with the two teams largely cancelling each other out and the scoreboard showing a pair of zeroes.
Parity finally dissipated with 28 minutes on the clock, however, as Rey Lee-Lo pounced on a loose ball before quickly popping the ball to Lane, who took off, sidestepped Zebre's Rory Parata, and then charged over the line to open the scoring, Evans adding the extras.
Six minutes later, the visitors came close to grabbing a second try of the game when Evans' smart grubber kick left Aled Summerhill to charge down the ball but his attempted finish was ruled a knock-on.
But, in the 36th minute, the hosts drew level as Giovanbattista Venditti intercepted the ball before embarking on a lung-busting run from his own half, riding a tackle before storming over the line to dot down, skipper Guglielmo Palazzani converting to make it 7-7.
But the Blues would go into the break with their noses in front, Evans slotting a penalty just before the half-time whistle.
In the second period, Zebre and their visitors traded blows but neither was prepared to concede an inch, with scoring opportunities coming at a premium.
For all of their endeavour, the two teams struggled to fashion another breakthrough before time was up, with the Blues’ first-half efforts proving sufficient for them to take the spoils.
For Cardiff Blues:
Zebre: 15 Rory Parata, 14 Gabriele Di Giulio, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Faialaga Afamasaga, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Serafin Bordoli, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani (captain), 8 Derick Minnie, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 James Tucker, 5 Leonard Krumov, 4 David Sisi, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Cruze Ah-Nau.
Replacements: 16 Luhandre Luus, 17 Daniele Rimpelli, 18 Roberto Tenga, 19 Valerio Bernabò, 20 Jacopo Sarto, 21 Riccardo Raffaele, 22 Maicol Azzolini, 23 Matteo Pratichetti.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhun Williams, 14 Aled Summerhill, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Owen Lane, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Josh Turnbull, 7 Ellis Jenkins (captain), 6 Olly Robinson, 5 Damian Welch, 4 George Earle, 3 Anton Peikrishvili, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 James Down, 20 Alun Lawrence, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Steve Shingler, 23 Blaine Scully.
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eddie Hogan-O'Connell (Ireland), Clara Munarini (Italy)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)