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Neath Embarrassed In Italy

Neath Embarrassed In Italy


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Amatori & Calvisano have made history as they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with an incredible 38-29 win over Neath at the Centro Sportivo ground.

This was their first ever victory in six seasons of European competition.

The Italian side hauled back a 17 point half-time deficit in a second half display that left Neath coach Lyn Jones with his head in his hands.

Young Amatori outside-half Vincenzo Zullo bagged 18 points in a superb display of goal-kicking, with fullback Massimo Ravazzalo showing the Neath defence a clean pair of heels in scoring two tries.

Prolific Neath points-scorer Lee Jarvis opened the scoring with a penalty goal, but when Ravazzolo scored to give the home side a 5-3 lead, and evoke memories of Neath’s shock loss to Viadana last season.

English referee Dave Pearson then ruled that the Amatori defence illegally collapsed a scrum on their line and awarded a penalty try, converted by Jarvis. Centre James Storey scored a good try in the 38th minute, and from the next kick-off, most of the Neath side handled the ball in a flowing movement downfield finished off by hooker Barry Williams. Jarvis missed the touchline conversion but Neath went into the break 22-5 ahead full of confidence.

But the second period saw on of the most incredible comebacks in Heineken Cup history. Zullo kicked two quick penalties that gave the fans hope, but a try to veteran backrower Rowland Phillips, the captain for the day, restored Neath’s healthy lead.

But when Italian international hooker Giampiero De Carli gave the tiny crowd of 2,500 plenty to cheer about with a stunning try after 50 minutes, and with Zullo potting goals from all over the park, the All Blacks began getting nervous.

And fullback Ravazzolo produced a delightful chip and chase to score a try that would grace any rugby pitch, Zullo’s conversion narrowed the margin to a solitary point with 10 minutes left on the clock.

The 21-year-old then coolly slotted a penalty goal to give his side the lead and an interception try to scrum-half Eugenio Trecate in the last minute simply confirmed the stunning upset.

In other matches involving Welsh sides, Newport edged past London Irish with a 16-12 point victory at Rodney Parade, and Swansea recorded their first win in this competition for two seasons, but Cardiff were battered black and blue by Northampton at Franklins Gardens, going down 25-11.

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