Pro14: Zebre 6-16 Cardiff Blues

Guinness Pro14: Zebre v Cardiff Blues
Zebre (3) 6
Pens: Canna 2
Cardiff Blues (10) 16
Tries: J Adams, Con: J Evans Pens: J Evans 2, Tovey

Cardiff Blues overcame playing the second half with 14 men to defeat Zebre in the opening Pro14 match of the season.

Back-rower Josh Turnbull was red-carded in the 43rd minute by Irish referee George Clancy for a dangerous tackle.

It was deemed a shoulder to the head of Zebre flanker Maxime Mbandà with Clancy watching numerous television replays before making his decision.

A try from Josh Adams and eight points from Jarrod Evans helped seal the win.

Cardiff Blues marshalled the second-half expertly with flanker Shane Lewis-Hughes outstanding in a dominant defensive display from the Welsh region.

Wales half-backs Lloyd Williams and Jarrod Evans also guided the side expertly.

Around 1,000 fans were allowed into the 5,000-capacity Stadio Lanfranchi to watch the game.

Cardiff Blues centre Willis Halaholo played his first game in almost 11 months after suffering a knee injury during the Challenge Cup defeat by Leicester in November 2019.

New Zealand-born Halaholo qualifies for Wales through residency and was due to face Barbarians in an uncapped match - Wayne Pivac's first game in charge - before injury struck.

Wales lock Cory Hill captained the Welsh side for the first time since returning from Dragons, but back-rower Josh Navidi (concussion) and wing Owen Lane (shoulder) were ruled out.

Zebre included Samoa full-back Junior Laloifi, Ireland lock Mick Kearney and Italy hooker Oliviero Fabiani in a side containing 12 Italy internationals despite a lengthy injury list.

Home wing Federico Mori was yellow-carded for an early dangerous aerial tackle on Cardiff Blues full-back Matthew Morgan.

Jarrod Evans opened the scoring with a penalty for the visitors before Carlo Canna levelled the scores at the second kicking attempt in windy conditions.

Wales wing Adams kept up his fine try-scoring record with his eighth try in nine games for the region after latching onto a kick from Jarrod Evans, who also converted.

Blues had identified a weakness in the Zebre defence with a series of clever cross kicks, while the visitors disrupted the home try line with second-row Seb Davies prominent.

John Mulvihill's side led 10-3 at the interval before Turnbull was handed his red card three minutes into the second-half with Canna slotting over his second penalty.

The visitors responded positively and almost scored a try through a Rey Lee-Lo try, but the score was disallowed for a knock-on.

Evans missed a long-range penalty before a scything break from the fly-half almost created a Blues try.

That move broke down and Evans had to settle with slotting over his second penalty before replacement Jason Tovey also added a late three points.

Cardiff Blues head coach John Mulvihill: "I think the boys played really well especially being down being down a red card just after half-time.

"To get a win over here in front of a home crowd is a great way to start our season.

"We were good with the ball, we actually did not have many opportunities in attack.

"Defensively we stood up and we will keep working on our attack to put teams under pressure."

Watch Pro14 highlights on Scrum V, 22:00 BST, Monday, 5 October on BBC Two Wales.

Zebre: Junior Laloifi; Federico Mori, Giulio Bisegni (capt), Tommaso Boni, Mattia Bellini; Carlo Canna, Marcello Violi; Daniele Rimpelli, Oliviero Fabiani, Eduardo Bello, Mick Kearney, Leonard Krumov, Maxime Mbandà, Johan Meyer, Jimmy Tuivaiti.

Replacements: Massimo Ceciliani, Danilo Fischetti, Giosuè Zilocchi, Cristian Stoian, Lorenzo Masselli, Guglielmo Palazzanit, Antonio Rizzi, Jacopo Trulla.

Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Josh Adams, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Hallam Amos; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Corey Domachowski, Liam Belcher, Dmitri Arhip, Seb Davies, Cory Hill (capt), Shane Lewis-Hughes, James Botham, Josh Turnbull.

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rhys Carré, Dillon Lewis, Ben Murphy, Olly Robinson, Lewis Jones, Jason Tovey, Garyn Smith.

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU)

Assistant Referees: Federico Vedovelli, Riccardo Angelucci (both FIR)

TMO: Stefano Penne (FIR)

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