Cardiff Rugby 42 - 14 Zebre
HT 35-0
Fri 06 May 19:35 Cardiff Arms Park Ref: Ben Blain United Rugby Championship

Cardiff 42 Zebre Parma 14

Fri 6 May 2022 21:25 Cardiff 42 Zebre Parma 14

Cardiff turned on the style as they got back to winning ways in the United Rugby Championship with a six try victory over Zebre Parma.

The battered Blue and Blacks went into the encounter desperate for victory following five consecutive defeats, including four in the URC. 

They wasted no time to unleash their frustrations as James Ratti crashed over inside five minutes and they added four more in the first half to secure the bonus-point and take a giant stride to that all important win.

Owen Lane scorched over for a brace, Lloyd Williams finished a fine Rhys Carré break and there was a penalty try in the dominant opening 40 minutes.

Cardiff struggled to find their killer instinct in the driving rain, while a yellow card, long stoppages and changes disrupted any rhythm.

Erich Cronjé and Maxime Mbanda got on the scoresheets for the Italians, but the result was never truly threatened. Cardiff had the final word, as Max Llewellyn, who had impressed all evening, beat two defenders to take the Blue and Blacks' tally beyond 40 points.

Dai Young's side now prepare to finish their campaign with back-to-back away games against Dragons and Benetton Rugby.

The talk all week had been centred around signing off the home season in style both to thank the home support and send off those leaving.

It took the Blue and Blacks less than five minutes to open the scoring as the pack turned the screw at the scrum to win a penalty which was kicked to the corner. 

In a set play Belcher threw over the top to Max Llewellyn cutting a razor sharp line. The centre went close before in form Cabango was brought into play and almost jinked over. 

After the backs went close, the forwards kept the ball tight and Ratti powered over from close range with Priestland converting 

Cardiff remained in control and after another five minutes they claimed a second try. Rhys Carré, who carried ferociously last week in Munster, continued his rich vein of form as he fit a Priestland pass at full pace and bundled through three Italian defenders, offloading out of the third to put Williams away.

Priestland was again on target to stretch Cardiff’s lead to 14-points after 10 minutes and it did not take long for them to add more.

A combination of half-breaks and slick handling involving Rey Lee-Lo, Llewellyn and Matthew Morgan released Cabango on the left. He burst past his opposite number and was bundled into the corner by three defenders. 

The young wing was unfortunate not to claim a fourth try in five games but after long deliberations referee Ben Blain sent Junior Laloifi to the bin for a high tackle and awarded a penalty try. 

The game continued with a try every five minutes and this time it was Lane, who finished superbly after Morgan found space on the outside of the Italian defence and released Lee-Lo.

Lane had plenty to do when he received the ball but he burst past Simone Gesi and then displayed enough pace to outstrip the covering defence to score under the sticks.

Priestland converted and the try wrapped up the bonus-point inside 20 minutes but there was more to come.

Just as half-time approached, Lloyd Williams broke down the blindside, committed Zebre full-back Michaelangelo Biondelli and kicked ahead. 

Lane won the race to the ball, hacked ahead and collected for his second of the night and tenth of the season. Priestland maintained his 100 per cent strike rate and the Blue and Blacks entered the break 35 points up.

Zebre drew first blood in the second half as centre Cronje powered over from close range and the try was converted. 

Handling errors undid any further good work as Cardiff struggled to rediscover their cutting edge in the rain and a harsh yellow card to Kirby Myhill caused yet more disruption. 

Clever play down the short side from replacement fly-half Ben Thomas almost put his half-back parter Ellis Bevan away but the young scrum-half could not quite make it.

Zebre claimed a second through Mbandá as the clock hit 70 and Carlo Canna added the conversion. 

With a brace to his name, Owen Lane was named Player of the Match - which was well received by the 6,383 in attendance - before Cardiff had the final word as Llewellyn powered through to cross for a well-earned first try of the season.

Up next for the Blue and Blacks are consecutive trips to Dragons and Benetton to close out the campaign.