Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Jones denies plucky Zebre

Zebre fell to a heartbreaking defeat against Newport

A Steffan Jones penalty denied Zebre their first-ever RaboDirect PRO12 win as Newport Gwent Dragons narrowly edged their clash 14-13 in Parma.

The Welsh side were shellshocked as Zebre built up a healthy 10-3 lead going into the break, thanks to a try from Matteo Pratichetti and the accurate kicking of Alberto Chillon.

Jones had put three points on the board in the first half, though, and his kicking proved key in boosting the value of a solitary touchdown from Jevon Groves in the 61st minute.

Pride was realistically the only thing at stake for the Italians, who still prop up the table with a meagre haul of seven points.

But when home stand-off Chillon kicked a penalty in the 21st minute there was cause for cheer and centre Pratichetti duly went over seven minutes after Jones had levelled the scores from the kicking tee.

That try was converted by Chillon and the Parmesan club held a sizeable advantage at the interval.

They increased their lead to 10 points through another Chillon penalty when play resumed but Newport soon began to wrest back some control.

Jones' second penalty brought the Dragons within sight of victory in the 56th minute and back-row forward Groves dotted down to narrow the deficit to just two points with 19 minutes to play.

The Italian crowd cheered when the subsequent penalty was missed but Parma fell silent when Jones steered his third and final penalty through the sticks to win the game in the 69th minute.

Newport close to within a point of 10th-placed Edinburgh, who lost at Ospreys on Friday, with reigning champions Leinster next up at Rodney Parade. Zebre, meanwhile, are 15 points adrift at the bottom of the table.

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