EDINBURGH GAVE THEMSELVES a bit of breathing space over the bottom two sides of the RaboDirect Pro12 after clinging on to record a 25-23 victory at home to Zebre.
Alan Solomons’ side move up to seventh position in the league overnight thanks to tries from Grieg Tonks, WP Nel and Cornell du Preez, as well as 10 points from the boot of 21-year-old out-half Harry Leonard.
Zebre were the first off the mark in the opening half, as a 17th minute penalty from Italian international pivot Luciano Orquera gave them a short-lived lead. Edinburgh bounced straight back with a try from fullback Tonks on 20 minutes, although Leonard missed the conversion. Eight minutes later, South African prop Nel barreled over for Edinburgh’s second try, with Leonard converting this time.
However, Zebre showed determination to respond almost immediately as outside centre Tommaso Iannone crossed the whitewash and Orquera made no mistake from the tee. Right on the stroke of half-time, Zebre put themselves back in front when their exciting winger Leanardo Sarto dotted down, allowing Orquera to give his side a 17-12 lead at the break.
Solomons clearly gave his men a dressing down in the sheds and Edinburgh came out of the blocks far stronger in the second half. Two penalties from Leonard sandwiched a try by du Preez. The South African has his eyes set on winning Scotland caps, and his five point contribution marked out his credentials. With Leonard having tacked on the conversion, the home side found themselves 25-17 up heading into the closing 15 minutes.
Zebre battled hard though, and two penalties from the tee by Orquera meant the Murrayfield support endured an uncomfortable few minutes until referee Leighton Hodges put them out of them at ease with the final whistle. The losing bonus point for Zebre means Connacht are not three points adrift at the bottom of the league, ahead of the visit of the Glasgow Warriors tomorrow.
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