URC: Edinburgh recover from sticky start to pick up away win over Zebre

Jamie Ritchie bounces back from Scotland disappointment to lead capital side by example

Boan Venter scored Edinburgh's opening try versus Zebre. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Boan Venter scored Edinburgh's opening try versus Zebre. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Zebre 19

Edinburgh 24

ALASDAIR MACKENZIE @ Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi

IT was scrappy, it was error-strewn, at times it was ugly. But ultimately, Edinburgh’s power and determination proved enough to seal a comeback win over Zebre Parma that keeps them right in the play-off mix in the URC.

An early Gonzalo Garcia try and an exchange of penalties had the Italians 10-3 up at the break, and things looked ominous for Edinburgh when Harry Paterson, fresh off his heroics on Test debut against France last weekend, was sent to the bin with 14 minutes remaining and his side trailing.

But a strong finish from the Scots saw them force their way into the lead for the first time with a penalty try before Dave Cherry’s charge finished the job and left head coach Sean Everitt relieved to take anything from the game.

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“I think we were very fortunate. We hung in there, and the ascendancy that we got in the set-piece got us the result at the end of the day,” said Everitt.

“But I’m not happy with the performance – you can’t be happy with an error-ridden performance like that. But there are some guys here who haven’t played for five weeks, some others haven’t played for three, so we were a little bit rusty.

“And also being away from home doesn’t help. But it’s no excuse. We know we’re a better team than that. We just lacked urgency in the first half and they beat us at the breakdown and we just couldn’t get any momentum. And when we had opportunities in the 22 we never finished.”

The team news itself provided cause for discussion, with seven members of Scotland’s Six Nations squad being released for the trip to Italy.

They included skipper Jamie Ritchie, making his first appearance since being dropped from the Scotland match-day squad for the defeat to France to compound an already difficult period in which he was stripped of the national captaincy.

Hamish Watson ran out for his 150th Edinburgh appearance, becoming the first back rower to hit that landmark and the 11th player of all time.

And the back row played a big role in this arm-wrestle of a victory, Ritchie earning four turnovers, Watson beating four defenders – both game-high stats – and number eight Bill Mata claiming man-of-the-match after finishing top of the charts for carries (10) and metres made (33).

“I thought the team was well led by Jamie,” Everitt added. “He showed a lot of composure. We knew we had a set-piece that could get ascendancy, especially when they made their substitutions, and obviously the yellow card helped as well. Credit to our guys for the composure that they showed and for coming back in a game that they were really never in for 70 minutes.

“I’m proud of the character that they showed, but we know we’re better than that and the guys will be disappointed in their performance. Five points would have been great, but at the end of the day we’ll take the win.”



Some fans were still taking their seats when Zebre struck what proved to be their only try, Simone Gesi going on a bouncing, weaving run down the left wing before offloading for Garcia to score in the corner, Giovanni Montemauri adding the extras.

An exchange of Montemauri and Ben Healy penalties made up the rest of the first-half scoring, Edinburgh finding themselves constantly repelled when approaching the hosts’ 22, be it through resilient defence or their own errors.

The statistics illustrate their problems executing from good field position; by half-time, Everitt’s side had three points to show for 79 percent territory, while the referee’s whistle was sounding against them all too often.

Things looked ominous when the second half began with another Montemauri penalty for a 10-point Zebre lead, but Edinburgh finally sprang to life from then on.

They were quick to fire back, hammering on the Zebre door before Boan Venter burst it open with a powerful drive over the line, with Healy adding the conversion.

Looking more dynamic and powerful than before, the Edinburgh pack got to work asserting dominance, even if Montemauri’s boot pegged them back to a six-point deficit again.

Hopes of a comeback win took a blow when Paterson was shown yellow for taking an opponent out in the air, but while down a man a driving line-out forced a penalty try and evened up the numbers, with Dylan de Leeuw heading to the sidelines.

The decisive blow was landed with seven minutes to go, Cherry charging over from another driving maul that couldn’t be stopped, and a late yellow for Javan Sebastian wasn’t enough to undo the visitors’ strangle-hold, other than Geronimo Prisciantelli claiming a well-earned losing bonus point with the last kick of the game.



Teams –

Zebre Parma: G Prisciantelli; P Bruno (S Gregory 70), L Morisi, D Mazza, S Gesi; G Montemauri, G Garcia (A Fusco  56); M Hasa (L Rizzoli 46), L Bigi (M Manfredi 56), M Nocera (R Genovese 67), M Canali, L Krumov (D de Leeuw 60), B Stavile, I  Bianchi (T Fox-Matamua 56), G Licata (G Ferrari 60).

Edinburgh: E Boffelli; H Paterson, M Currie, J Lang (M Bennett 62), C Dean; B Healy, A Price (B Vellacott 55); B Venter, D Cherry (P Harrison 78), W Nel (J Sebastian 53), M Sykes, G Young, J Ritchie (T Dodd 78), H Watson ( C Boyle 60), V Mata.


Scorers –

Zebre: Tries: Garcia; Con: Montemauri; Pens: Montemauri 3, Prisciantelli.

Edinburgh: Tries: Venter, Penalty Try, Cherry; Con: Healy 2; Pen: Healy

Scoring sequence (Zebre first): 5-0; 7-0; 10-0; 10-3 (h-t) 13-3; 13-8; 13-10; 16-10; 16-17; 16-22; 16-24 19-24.


Yellow cards –

Zebre: de Leeuw (68 mins)

Edinburgh: Paterson (64 mins), Sebastian (78 mins)

Premiership: Marr book home play-off with hard-nosed win over indisciplined Currie Chieftains


  1. Edinburgh have 3 (three!) Super 6 teams plus Premier teams. Surely their coaching squad can find and develop their own players?!? Mosese has clearly said he wants to play for Australia.

  2. Forwards good at the set piece backs poor overall. Attack non-existant we so desperately need a new attack coach and agree Price is so so slow. Velacott needs to start at 9 – we need Bennett fit and we need a coach who can create a dangerous attacking strategy.

  3. Bit harsh to criticise the centres for lack of creativity when Price service is so poor and Healy is so obviously not a 10. No team can shine with poor half backs. Look how Italy toil with Varney slowing everything up.

    • Healy is so obviously a 10, it’s the positions around him that need sorting.
      Edinburgh need to recruit cleverly and pragmatically considering whom they have got and whom they need.
      So a big crash ball centre please.
      Also no need for Price too slow.

      • Lang is a good 12 but more of a second playmaker and the game plan is obviously for Healy to sit deep so doesn’t suit. Expect centres and big 12 to be part of summer recruitment.

      • Healy is not a 10 that creates attacking play is the problem. Big boot but otherwise not exactly a step up on Jaco

  4. It’s clearly not just me wondering what the plan with the backs was last night. I struggle to understand the Healy Lang combination, but was encouraged to see Bennett is fit again, so perhaps that will sort that. Healy appears to stand very deep, yet still didn’t enjoy much time, so maybe Price should slide down the order. It won’t happen, as the order has been given for Price to get game time. Dean is not a winger, but I suppose injuries and other duties dictate that he must be.

    I see reports Hastings is to rejoin Glasgow for next season, but wonder if he might be a better fit for Edinburgh.

    A win away from home is to be valued, but it was a headscratcher.

    • I don’t think Bennett and Dean can be seen as the answer long term, some quality fresh blood in the centre is needed. Shame Kerr Yule is at Glasgow he looks a big powerful 12. Mosese Tuipulotu anyone?
      We have top class back 3 and need to be able to bring them into the game.

      • Edinburgh have 3 (three!) Super 6 teams plus Premier teams. Surely their coaching squad can find and develop their own players?!? Mosese has clearly said he wants to play for Australia.

    • Having seen Hastings a few times this season, I’m not sure he’s much of a plus, seems to me more of another journeyman now, his kicking was particularly poor

      • Hastings has played 3 games for a struggling Gloucester team as he comes back from a series of injuries it’s hardly accurate to call him a journey man. When finds his form again he will improve Glasgow massively.
        Paul B, Yule is attached to Glasgow through geography and developed by SRU funded academy. I think has way more chance of getting game time at Edinburgh to develop. That won’t happen with Glasgows depth at centre.
        I am sure Sione didnt talk about playing for Scotland until he moved to Glasgow so Mosese is exactly the same and there will still be SRU interest.

  5. A very worrying performance that would have unquestionably led to a deserved defeat against any other team on the league (perhaps even including the Dragons!)

    I don’t think I’ve watched a single impressive performance from an Edinburgh centre this season. Perhaps the tactics have something to do with that? I say tactics, it doesn’t appear there’s any attacking strategy whatsoever.

    Not sure whether Healy isn’t actually as good as most people think, or whether he’s being stymied/perplexed by what he’s being asked to do.

  6. That was a tough watch… I’m really starting to dislike the way that particular ref refs a game, he just won’t let play happen, his cheeks must be so tired by he finishes the game 😆 every game he’s in he’s preening and showing off ! The very best refs give a bit so the game runs along. Not withstanding that Edinburgh are surely their own worst enemies, Zebre no stars just hard workers, but still gave us a fright… we won’t go far playing like that unfortunately. On a positive the old “wins a win” statement applies. But the big teams ain’t worried about us with that team out, but it does appear Mata is going to give it all on his last season for us… and that can only be good 🥰🏉

  7. I’m not a fan of penalties at the scrum, which are only meant to be a restart with the forwards tied in after all. But without them, Edinburgh were toast last night.

    I have said it before, but I have no idea what we are doing giving Ali Price game time. (Did Gatland destroy him when in South Africa? He has never been the same player since then.)

    To be fair, he is not always as bad as he was last night but that really was dreadful. When the service to the backs is so consistently poor, it is very difficult to judge their attacking game fairly. I thought the Zebre try was a bit soft but, other than that, they defended well and Boff was imperious in the air.

    Wee Ben V nearly made matters worse when his attempted chip over the top was charged down (it was never really on) but he settled down and made a big difference to the speed of attack.

    Being fair to Zebre, they defended very well for long spells. Edinburgh were so poor last night that Zebre might have won, but for me, they didn’t really do enough to complain about losing.

  8. Harrison finally makes a squad and gets 2 mins off the bench, no wonder young players don’t get a chance to develop.

  9. Turgid affair at best. Thank goodness the set piece was dominant particularly the scrum which yielded many penalties and allowed us to dominate territory. As has been said by others, the only way we looked like scoring was from close range forward drives or line out mauls. The backs lack a cutting edge and Ali Price is so incredibly slow at getting the ball away from the ruck which just eats up any space the outside backs have. No variety tried with a chip kick or grubber against the rush defence. I don’t remember a single break from the backs and despite their limited possession, Zebra looked more dangerous with the ball.

    Anyway a win it is and it didn’t look like it with 20 minutes to go so well take the points.

  10. Very poor performance. No creativity in the backs – do Edinburgh not have an attack coach? Price gave an exhibition of how to be the slowest 9 in the league in moving the ball, Watson and Richie showed why they no longer start for Scotland. Watson never passes the ball, just brainless head down charges to little effect and 12 turnovers lost in the first half.

    • head coach is allegedly a backs coach.

      Forwards dominated possession but ball presentation and ruck speed painfully slow. As is realigning for next phase. Scum halfs can’t shift a ball that isn’t there or pass to players who are not there.

  11. Very poor performance. No creativity in the backs – do Edinburgh not have an attack coach? Price gave an exhibition of how to be the slowest 9 in the league in moving the ball, Watson and Richie showed why they no longer start for Scotland. Watson never passes the ball, just brainless head down charges to little effect and 12 turnovers lost in the first half.

  12. I’ve stated before, funny decision to let Cammy Hutchison go, none of the centre options have the beef required, I suppose if you think Crosbie VDM Skinner Schoeman were missing – that’s considerable grunt.
    But this doesn’t detract from the fact that we lack physicality in the backs.
    Glasgow should sign Hastings and Tom Jordan should move east.

      • for many Edin fans and the SRU that is how it s seen. And the solution to everything, pinch a Glasgow player. Its pretty shameless

      • @michaelc

        yes players move both ways. Full international players at their peak go east, and are then apparently rubbish. Those deemed surplus go west. Oh and Dell didn’t move from Edin to Glasgow, he went via London Irish, where he flopped

        The biggest difference is Edin fans and more than once their head coach whinge and ask for a player from Glasgow. I’ve not really seen the opposite.
        And Edin do it because of failure to develop their own, easier to sponge off Glasgow and SRU agree. And still they play like last night. It is a real and lasting problem for Scottish Rugby

  13. 79% territory in first half, the TV coverage said 70% possession for the first 60 mins. Yet they didn’t look like scoring. (other than by the short range grunt they had had so far)
    Good to see they finally got ahead, but like my Viaplay coverage I gave up after the 60. It was too painful to take any more.
    A worrying lack of pace in the backs at the moment, make any breaks hard to convert.
    Never mind, win or lose, the next game can’t be as poor.

  14. 70 % possession significant amounts in red zone against the team with the worst defensive record in league says it all – it should have 40 pts plus Particularly with 100% line out success. With the exception of Mata and Lang nobody could make ground ball in hand indeed many lost ground . We also lost the breakdown with an international back row two off whom have a point to prove . The only player who proved a point was Conner Boyle when he came on maybe he should start !
    As a team we lacked the creativity and intensity we need to breakdown dogged aggressive defences .The danger signs are there for us going forward particularly with Mata leaving .

  15. Cherry 100% throwing in, Young dominant in line-out. Scrum good. Healy kicked adriotly. Boffelli prowess in air crucial in win.
    Didn’t like the look of the backs before the game and my fears were shown to be justified. The boys tried hard but created nothing against a feisty but ultimately poor Zebre, surely there is a better young S6 option on the wing than Dean??
    So, in conclusion a good away win, Young to start v England and Cherry most dependable option at hooker for Scotland

    • Most dependable hooker providing he isn’t doing a “superman” dive down the hotel stairs whilst attending a major tournament.

    • Cherry and Young should be nowhere near the Scotland team.
      That performance by Edinburgh has seen every single player drop massively back in their chances at a cap.

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