United Rugby Championship: Zebre 22-22 Cardiff - Hosts snatch late draw in Italy

Rey Lee-Lo attacks Zebre defence
Cardiff centre Rey Lee-Lo was replaced by Willis Halaholo during the 22-22 draw against Zebre in Parma.

United Rugby Championship

Zebre (12) 22

Tries: Smith, Morisi, Krumov Cons: Prisciantelli 2 Pens: Prisciantelli

Cardiff (7) 22

Tries: Thomas, Timani, Grady Cons: De Beer 2 Pens: De Beer

Zebre clinched a late draw against Cardiff in the United Rugby Championship (URC) match in Parma.

Replacement Leonard Krumov grabbed the try in added time with Geronimo Prisciantelli adding the simple conversion to level the scores.

Cardiff scored tries through Lopeti Timani, Ben Thomas and Mason Grady.

Zebre scored tries from Franco Smith and Luca Morisi but also missed four kicks at goal which cost the home side 11 points.

The Italian side only managed 11 league points in total last season and have equalled that in the opening five games.

Like Zebre, Cardiff have won only one of five games this season which was last month's 16-9 victory at Dragons.

Cardiff were beaten 18-12 at home against Bulls last weekend while Zebre ended a URC losing streak going back to April 2022 with a 12-10 victory at home to Sharks.

Cardiff made five changes following the defeat to Bulls with hooker Liam Belcher back to captain the side and prop Rhys Carre, lock Seb Davies, full-back Cameron Winnett and centre Thomas also returning.

It was Thomas who opened the scoring after he effectively started and finished the move for Cardiff's opening try.

Prisciantelli missed two penalty attempts before scrum-half Alessandro Fusco was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Grady.

Zebre wing Jacopo Trulla took over the kicking duties but also failed with a long-range effort. Cardiff's main problem this season has been basic handling errors and the skills issue of Matt Sherratt's side continued with further transgressions.

Poor Cardiff discipline also provided the platform for 14-man Zebre to level the scores with centre Smith crashing over and Prisciantelli converting.

Fellow centre Morisi quickly followed up with a second try for the home side with the score confirmed by the television match official (TMO).

The URC has been hampered by technology issues this season and the TMO had to contend with a lack of replays provided when judging whether there was obstruction, players were offside or knock-ons had occurred.

Prisciantelli missed the conversion as Zebre led 12-7 at half-time. Wales prop Corey Domachowski replaced Carre early in the second half and immediately forced a scrum penalty.

The visitors dominated the third quarter of the game and Domachowski laid the platform for the industrious number eight Timani to score.

De Beer's conversion handed Cardiff the lead before Prisciantelli's penalty restored the hosts' advantage.

Zebre flanker Giacomo Ferrari avoided a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on with Scottish referee Mike Adamson deciding the professional foul only deserved a penalty.

De Beer slotted a penalty before the fly-half started a brilliant counter-attack with replacement centre Willis Halaholo releasing Grady to stroll in unopposed.

De Beer had an opportunity to put Cardiff two scores clear but failed with the conversion which fuelled Zebre to try and claim the draw. The miss proved crucial.

A frantic finale saw the home side attack the Cardiff line for the final few minutes with Krumov eventually scoring to ensure honours were even.

Cardiff will again be kicking themselves for letting another match slip away.

Zebre: Lorenzo Pani; Jacopo Trulla, Luca Morisi, Franco Smith, Simone Gesi; Geronimo Prisciantelli, Alessandro Fusco; Danilo Fischetti, Luca Bigi, Juan Pitinari, David Sisi, Andrea Zambonin, Giacomo Ferrari, Iacopo Bianchi, Giovanni Licata (capt).

Replacements: Marco Manfredi, Luca Rizzoli, Muhamed Hasa, Leonard Krumov, Davide Ruggeri, Gonzalo Garcia, Scott Gregory, Guido Volpi.

Cardiff: Cameron Winnett; Harri Millard, Rey Lee-Lo, Ben Thomas, Mason Grady; Tinus de Beer, Tomos Williams; Rhys Carre, Liam Belcher (capt), Rhys Litterick, Seb Davies, Teddy Williams, Alex Mann, Ellis Jenkins, Lopeti Timani.

Replacements: Efan Daniel, Corey Domachowski, Will Davies-King, Rory Thornton, Thomas Young, Ellis Bevan, Willis Halaholo, Jacob Beetham

Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)

Assistant referees: Clara Munarini & Alberto Favaro (FIR)

TMO: Colin Stanley (IRFU)

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