Pro12: Zebre 21-23 Cardiff Blues

Pro12 highlights: Zebre 21-23 Cardiff Blues
Guinness Pro12
Zebre (11) 21
Tries: Palazzini, Bisegni, Venditti Pens: Canna, Padovani
Cardiff Blues (18) 23
Tries: Scully, Morgan, James Con: Shingler Pens: Shingler 2

Cardiff Blues remained unbeaten in the Pro12 and rose to second after enduring a tense finish against Zebre in Parma.

Carlo Canna and Steven Shingler exchanged early penalties before hosts' Guglielmo Palazzani's close-range effort.

Wing Blaine Scully's try put Blues ahead before Matthew Morgan and Tom James helped give them a cushion.

But tries by Zebre's Giulio Bisegni and Giovanbattista Venditti jangled Blues' nerves as the final whistle loomed.

Steven Shingler offloads to Tom James
Steven Shingler offloads to Tom James in Parma

The match was also notable for four sin-binnings.

Home hooker Oiviero Fabiani and visiting flanker Josh Turnbull each sat out 10 first half minutes.

After the break, home lock Federico Ruzza and Blues prop Rhys Gill fell foul of the match officials.

Blues went to Parma intent on making amends for their defeat in the corresponding fixture there in October 2015.

Sam Warburton
Sam Warburton battles to make progress in Parma

But the hosts provided a reminder of the danger they can pose at home as Palazzani squeezed over from close range after his half-back partner Carlo Canna had exchanged penalties with Steven Shingler.

The Blues fly-half missed his next shot, but put his third kick between the sticks.

Wing Scully profited from good forward work for Blues to go ahead for the first time.

Shingler added the conversion, but was off target after centre Cory Allen's grubber kick allowed Morgan to win the race to the touchdown.

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Edoardo Padovani hit back with a penalty to make it 18-11 at the break.

Soon after the restart James stole possession and raced over unopposed for his third try of the campaign.

However, centre Bisegni put the hosts within a converted try of drawing level after Canna's long pass set him free.

Veteran replacement Gethin Jenkins' breakdown jackal relieved pressure on the visitors as Zebre piled on the pressure only for Blues to gift them the next try.

Number eight Nick Williams spilled the ball near his own line and the hosts made the most of the chance for Venditti to score, which went unconverted.

Blues head coach Danny Wilson told BBC Wales: "I didn't have to say too much when we got into the changing rooms.

"Sam Warburton and Gethin Jenkins in particular broke the game down and said 'look, it wasn't our best performance' and there was a bit of sloppiness to a number of areas of our game.

"However, we've come out here and won which is something the Blues haven't done for a while or done consistently and I think credit that we have come out here and won it.

"They're a different team at home. That doesn't take away from the fact we weren't as good as we've been recently."

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Blaine Scully, Cory Allen, Rey Lee-Lo, Tom James; Steven Shingler, Lloyd Williams; Rhys Gill, Matthew Rees, Scott Andrews, George Earle, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Sam Warburton (capt), Nick Williams,

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Gethin Jenkins, Taufa'ao Filise, Macauley Cook, Ellis Jenkins, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Garyn Smith.

Zebre: Edoardo Padovani; Gabriele Di Giulio, Giulio Bisegni, Tommaso Boni, Giovanbattista Venditti; Carlo Canna, Guglielmo Palazzani; Derick Minnie, Johan Meyer; Maxime Mbanda, Federico Ruzza, Quintin Geldenhuys, Pietro Ceccarelli, Oliviero Fabiani, Andrea Lovotti

Replacements: Tommaso D'Apice, Bruno Postiglioni, Dario Chistolini, Valerio Bernabo, Jacopo Sarto, Carlo Engelbrecht, Tommaso Castello, Kayle Van Zyl

Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU)

Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (IRFU), Luca Trentin (FIR)

Citing commissioner: Marco Cordelli (FIR)

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