The men of Gwent came away with three tries but it wasn’t enough to leave with the win as they were defeated 23-17 in the Stadio Lanfranchi.
It was a slow start to the game for both sides as they struggled with silly errors across the board. It was the home team however who appeared to grasp the game a little sooner than the Welsh region as they continued to push into the Dragons half when in possession of the ball. A lineout for the Italians saw them come within reaching distance of the white wash, only for the Dragons defence to stay strong and push them out of play.
The Italians were once again strong on the attack deep in the Dragons half and were rewarded with a penalty. As the Dragons were penalised for pulling the scrum down the Italians took a shot at the posts. It was Mirco Bergamasco who was on kicking duties and he nailed the first kick of the game, putting the home side on the front foot. The Welsh region gave another penalty to the home side this time it was because they were offside but Bergamasco missed the posts and the scores remained 3-0.
Zebre carried on attacking the Dragons half well but after a Zebre knock on, Geraint Rhys Jones used the penalty wisely and slotted a kick the corner. The Dragons line out was taken successfully and was Cory Hill who made it over the try line but Tom Prydie missed the conversion.
As the Dragons led the match for the first time after 20mins, brilliant teamwork from backs Jack Dixon and Tom Prydie saw another try come in the Dragons favour. Centre Dixon is the one who made it over try line but after some deliberation between referee Gary Conway and the TMO, Conway awarded the try. Once again Prydie missed the difficult kick and the Dragons move into the lead 10-3.
The men of Gwent push hard into the Zebre half, but as they kick the ball away it lands in the home sides hands, resulting in them utilising the ball well - darting into the Dragons half adding pressure. This time the ball found the hands of Jacopo Sarto who in turn found a gap in the Dragons defence and crossed the white wash. Bergamasco made no mistake of converting the try and they level the points after half an hour played.
As Zebre once again edge into the Dragons 22, they slip up with a forward pass, so it’s the Dragons add on the pressure as they kick to touch. They take the line out successfully but just as they gain momentum before the half time whistle is blown they are penalised for side entry and possession is returned to the home side. After a sloppy line out from the Italians, Zebre scramble over the ball and chip over the Dragons defence, but Conway has blown up and stopped play to check on a possible dangerous tackle from Geraint Rhys Jones. The decision is made and the fullback is sent to the sin bin because of a tackle in mid air.
With just a few minutes left in the first half the Dragons are penalised once again and Zebre are awarded with a penalty. This time they are go for the posts and Bergamasco is successful as the referee blows his whistle to end the first half.
Half Time: Zebre 13 – Newport Gwent Dragons 10
Both teams look determined after talks in the changing rooms and as the game gets underway it’s Zebre who are penalised for a dangerous tackle, without any hesitation from Conway as he awards the Zebre player with a yellow card and they are also down to 14 men.
The Dragons make the most of their penaly advantage and kick to the corner as they edge closer to the try line and its Nic Cudd who makes it across the white wash, to get the Dragons third try of the game. Prydie converts the try this time and the Dragons lead by two points.
It’s a quick restart and Zebre attack the Dragons try line and it’s not long before they have broken through the defence and replied to the Dragons try with their own crucial try. Its Matteo Pratichetti who claims the try and Bergamasco adds the extras which pushes the home side back into the lead.
With 20 minutes on the clock both teams go back up to 15 men as they battle it out to secure the extra points to make sure that they secure the win.
As the clock ticks down the Dragons keep play in the Zebre half, continuing to pressure them inside the 22. But as the Dragons take a line out Conway penalizes them for knocking the ball on and Zebre kick the ball to touch. But the ball doesn’t go too far as they gain the line out inside of their own half. This time though the Dragons get the chance to level the scores with a penalty kick. Tom Prydie steps up to take the kick but the ball goes wide of the posts keeping the scores at 20-17 to the home side.
Zebre go on to be penalised for being offside so the Dragons kick to touch and take a successful line out inside the Italians 22. As the Dragons continue to push against the Zebre defence they look to have broken it only for the ball to have been held up. But Conway goes back to a previous penalty and penalises captain Mauro Bergamasco for an early tackle. Once again Prydie steps up to take the kick, but he misses the posts once again with just 6 minutes left on the clock.
The Dragons go on to give away a penalty in the dying minutes as they bring the scrum down and its Zebre’s turn to take a kick at the posts. The kick is successful and the home side edge further into the lead with just seconds left on the clock. But as Zebre get their hands on the ball after the restart they clear it and the final whistle is blown ending the match on a score of 23-17 to the Italians.