Match Centre: Zebre 27-35 Bath Rugby

Joe Cokanasiga was one of the try-scorer for Bath Rugby
Joe Cokanasiga was one of the try-scorer for Bath Rugby
©Steve Haag

Zebre 27-35 Bath Rugby, Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi

Bath successfully overcame a hat-trick from Pierre Bruno as they came from behind to beat Zebre 35-27 in their round-of-16 European Challenge Cup clash at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

Zebre got off to a flying start as Bruno went over to touchdown in the corner after overcoming defence from Bath for the opening try in the third minute. The Zebre winger looked in terrific touch as he capitalised on a kick from Carlo Canna to go over the line for the second time in the 10th minute. With Canna kicking both the conversions, Zebre raced to a 14-0 lead.

Bath's response came in the 15th minute following an attacking scrum that allowed Joe Cokanasiga to speed past the Zebre defenders for the opening try and Ben Spencer improved making it 14-7.

However, Bruno soon recorded the fifth fastest hat-trick in the history of the European Challenge Cup when he collected his own kick overcoming a tricky bounce to crossover in the 23rd minute. Canna was once again spot on with the conversion as the Italian side raced to a 21-7 lead.

As the break was approaching, Will Stuart helped Bath reduce the gap down to seven points after Will Stuart powered his way over and Spencer kicking the extras.

The visitors were the quickest to get off the block in the second half as Ben Obano on his 100th appearance for Bath dived from close range and Spencer improved it as the scores were levelled by the 46th minute.

The start of the final quarter saw Zebre reduced to 14-men temporarily with replacement Eduardo Bello sin-binned and immediately Bath made use of the numerical advantage when Orlando Bailey found Anthony Watson, who dotted down in the 62nd minute and Spencer kicked the conversion to take the visitors to a lead of 21-28 for the first time in the game.

Paolo Pescotto, who came for Canna kicked back to back penalties in the 68th and 72nd minutes to reduce the gap down to one point but Bath managed to hold their defence tight and Jacques du Toit went over in the final minute at the back of a powerful driving maul to complete a thrilling eight point victory.

Team line up:

Zebre: Di Giulio; Bruno; Boni, Lucchin, D'Onofrio; Canna; Violi; Fischetti, Bigi, Zilocchi, Sisi, Nagle, Leavasa, Mbanda, Giammarioli

Reserves: Fabiani, Lovotti, Bello, Krumov, Bianchi, Renton, Pescetto, Mori

Bath: Watson; Rokoduguni, Clark, Ojomoh, Cokanasiga; Bailey, B Spencer; Obano, Walker, Stuart, McNally, Stooke, Reid, Underhill, Faletau

Reserves: Du Toit, Bhatti, Thomas, W Spencer, Bayliss, Chudley, Wright, Gray