Zebre recorded their first ever Guinness PRO12 win in Scotland as Giovanbattista Venditti’s late try handed them a dramatic 19-14 victory over Edinburgh.
The Italians had not won on eight previous visits to the country but when Damien Hoyland’s interception attempt failed, Venditti went over for the 78th-minute try which made history.
The unerring boot of Carlo Canna and some resilient defence had given Zebre a 12-0 lead with half an hour remaining but a pair of converted front-row tries – from Ross Ford and Murray McCallum – looked to have got Edinburgh out of jail.
However, Venditti’s score broke their hearts and snapped a three-game winning streak in the process.
Zebre may have suffered five consecutive Guinness PRO12 defeats to start the season but they began strongly at BT Murrayfield, continuous pressure yielding a penalty in front of the posts which Canna duly converted.
The Italians’ defence then stepped up to deny Edinburgh a quick response, winning turnover ball in their own 22 on multiple occasions.
With the hard running of Viliame Mata and the searching kicks of Jason Tovey and Hoyland, it appeared to be only a matter of time before the hosts got on the scoreboard but Zebre consistently cleared their lines.
And they got even more respite on 26 minutes as Canna slotted another three-pointer from in front of the posts to double the lead.
Edinburgh spurned an opportunity to halve the deficit seven minutes before the break, opting to boot a kickable penalty to the corner before coming up short in search of a try.
Instead, the Italian outfit promptly went down the other end and Canna nailed three more points for a 9-0 half-time lead.
The hosts looked certain to score just after the half-time interval following a great break from Phil Burleigh and nice work from Mata but Allan Dell knocked on at the line.
And they were again punished as the boot of Canna did more damage to extend the advantage to 12-0, before the Italian international lost his perfect record from the tee on 52 minutes as he failed to bisect the posts with his fifth attempt.
Edinburgh got themselves back in the contest with 18 minutes remaining as Ford was the beneficiary of an inexorable driving maul and Blair Kinghorn nailed the tricky touchline conversion.
Relentless play at the breakdown then culminated in McCallum powering his way over the line for his first Edinburgh try and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne’s extras gave the hosts their maiden lead of the game on 68 minutes.
However, with just two minutes left, Hoyland missed his interception and Federico Ruzza sent in Venditti for the pivotal try – Canna also slotting the conversion for a famous victory, Zebre’s first away win in any competition since beating Worcester Warriors in the European Challenge Cup back in January.
Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final