Zebre off the bottom as Dragons' woes continue
Zebre extended the Dragons’ winless run to six Guinness PRO14 matches with a 26-15 victory which lifted the Italians to fourth in Conference A.
Starting the day at the bottom of the pile, Zebre’s fourth win of the campaign saw them climb above their visitors and Glasgow, although the Dragons have a game in hand and the Warriors – who visit Leinster on Sunday – have two.
The Dragons remain without a victory since their one-point triumph in Glasgow on December 5 and now sit at the foot of the table.
Back-rowers Renato Giammarioli and Lorenzo Masselli crossed for Zebre, with Paolo Pescetto kicking 13 points.
The Dragons, whose efforts were hampered by yellow cards shown to Ben Fry and Ross Moriarty in the first half, scored two second-half tries through Jonah Homes but it was too little, too late.
Dean Ryan’s men applied some early pressure from a driving line-out but it was Zebre who went in front when Giammarioli showed a good turn of pace to touch down after seven minutes.
A well-worked line-out move saw the ball eventually land in the arms of the number eight, who spotted the gap, stepped inside and raced for the line, with Pescetto adding the extras.
Pescetto missed a subsequent penalty but the Dragons were dealt a setback soon after when Fry was sin-binned for a reckless clearout.
Zebre then extended their lead by three points via the boot of Pescetto, although that was as much as they could muster during Fry’s time in the bin.
The Dragons managed to get three points on the board when Sam Davies split the posts after 28 minutes before Pescetto missed for a second time from a relatively straightforward position.
The Zebre fly-half made no mistake from a simpler spot moments later to re-open the Italians’ 10-point advantage and the Dragons were down to 14 men again two minutes from the interval – Moriarty penalised for a no-arms tackle.
Pescetto found the target from the resulting penalty to send Zebre in at half-time with a 16-3 lead.
Michelangelo Biondelli went over in the corner in the opening minute of the second half but the try was ruled out on review after his knee strayed into touch under pressure from Jack Dixon.
Zebre were not to be denied in the 49th minute, however, when wonderful hands from Pierre Bruno and Enrico Lucchin sent the ball out to the right wing, where Masselli was on hand to finish the job, with Pescetto converting for a 23-3 lead.
The Dragons finally went over for their first try after 66 minutes when Rhodri Williams launched an inventive pass out wide for Holmes to touch down.
Davies kicked his side into double figures and, after Antonio Rizzi had added three points to Zebre’s total, Holmes crossed again but it was little more than a consolation for the men from Newport.
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