Last week, the Vodacom Bulls faced Zebre at Emirates Airline Park in a curtain-raiser to the game between the hosts and Leinster. On this occasion, the Emirates Lions were tasked with providing the early entertainment at Loftus Versfeld ahead of the Vodacom Bulls-Leinster match.

While the quality of the defence left a lot to be desired, both teams showed plenty of enterprise on attack. Wing Simone Gesi scored a first-half hat-trick for the Italians, while Edwill van der Merwe scored two of the Emirates Lions’ five tries during this period.

Jaco Kriel, playing in his final Vodacom URC match, also crossed the line in the first half, and his team went to the break with a healthy 31-22 lead. Zebre finished the half with 14 men, after flanker Guido Volpi was shown a yellow card.

Tiff Eden joined Volpi in the sin bin in the 49th minute, and the men from Johannesburg made their two-man advantage count. Nohamba powered through the defence to claim a second try, and the Emirates Lions moved into an 11-point lead.

Andries Coetzee and Rynhardt Rijnsburger added further tries to take the game away from Zebre. The visitors crossed the line twice in the dying stages to lend some respectability to the scoreline.

The result brings the curtain down on the Emirates Lions’ Vodacom URC campaign, as they have not qualified for the playoffs. It also sees Zebre finishing the season without a single win.


Emirates Lions 50 (31) - Tries: Sanele Nohamba (2), Edwill van der Merwe (2), Jaco Kriel, Quan Horn, Andries Coetzee, Rynhardt Rijnsburger. Conversions: Nohamba (5).

Zebre 35 (22) - Tries: Simone Gesi (3), Jacopo Trulla, Juan Pitinari. Conversions: Tiff Eden (2). Penalty goals: Eden (2).