Zebre 18 – 32 Scarlets: Taine Plumtree’s back row Masterclass secures Scarlets a crucial away win in Parma - Ruck

Zebre 18 – 32 Scarlets: Taine Plumtree’s back row Masterclass secures Scarlets a crucial away win in Parma

By Jon Page

After 2 years without a win outside of Wales in the URC, the Scarlets defeated Zebre in a comfortable bonus point win. Taine Plumtree and Gareth Davies were both yellow carded against Ulster last week but were heroes in Parma as their contributions handed Zebre an 18-32 defeat.

Zebre kicked off to the Scarlets and almost immediately turned the ball over in the Scarlets half. Showing an intention to play running rugby, they spread the ball wide before the Scarlets committed a penalty infringement. Continuing their ambition to get the ball moving forward, Montemauri kicked to the corner and after a solid lineout and a few phases Licata, the Zebre captain, crashed over for the first try on the four-minute mark. Montemauri added the extras, and the home side were 7-0 up with five minutes played. You would forgive Zebre for feeling confident, but their evening went swiftly downhill.

In the nightmare ten minutes that followed Jacopo Trulla knocked on in his dead ball area to gift Scarlets vital territory and Zebre lost Geronimo Prisciantelli and Enrico Lucchin to injury. To add further insult to injury, Zebre were utilising a 6-2 forwards to backs split on the bench, which required usual back row Bautista Stavile to deputise on the wing. Welsh international Taine Plumtree made a strong carry off the base off the scrum, before providing the try-assisting pass to captain Ryan Elias off a ruck only a few phases later.

This would signal the start of a dominating performance from Plumtree. Ioan Lloyd failed to add the extras but the men from Parma looked shellshocked, with Montemauri booting the resulting kick-off straight out.

Just five minutes later Plumtree would be directly involved in the Scarlets second try, galloping in the wide channels before delivering a silky out-the-back offload to Tomi Lewis, who put Gareth Davies in to score. Zebre fans will feel hard done by with the referee not going back to check whether Plumtree’s offload went forward, but any experienced player knows to play to the whistle.

This time Lloyd nailed the conversion and the men from Llanelli were up by five points. Consecutive rolling away penalties from both of the Scarlets’ second rows gave Montemauri two shots at goal which he dutifully kicked, giving the Italians a 13-12 lead just before the thirty-minute mark.

However, within three minutes Montemauri went from hero to villain, as 2017 and 2021 British and Irish Lions tourist Davies picked off a poor pass from the Zebre flyhalf to run in his second try untouched. Lloyd kicked the conversion to give the Scarlets a six-point lead. In the dying embers of the first half Plumtree continued his strong start with a phenomenal kick chase and clear out, before hitting the floor clutching his ankle. But within a couple of phases, he was back on his feet, hitting Zebre ball carriers with no regard for his personal safety, as the half drew to a close without a further score.

As the second half commenced, a strong carry by Eddie James provided the platform for a Tomi Lewis try in the corner just minutes later, converted again by Lloyd to further consolidate their lead. Despite this poor start, Zebre did not give up. A poor Davies kick allowed his opposite number Gonzalo Garcia to break the line, with Licata in support and making a strong carry into the Scarlets 22. The ball was shipped wide and showing remarkable work rate for a tighthead prop, Muhamed Hasa was on hand to score in the corner.

Despite a missed conversion from Montemauri, Scarlets may have been fearing a Zebre comeback, but the impact of Shaun Evans, Wyn Jones and Jarrod Taylor from the bench gave the Welshmen the impetus to close out the game. Sam Costelow steadied the ship with two penalties to put further daylight between the two teams. Replacement Zebre scrumhalf Thomas Dominguez was yellow carded for killing the ball under significant Scarlets pressure and Zebre were unable to function without him, with neither side scoring any further points before the ball was kicked out at after the buzzer.


TRIES: 2 (Licata 4’, Hasa 52’)

CONVERSIONS: 1 (Montemauri 5’)

PENALTIES: 2 (Montemauri 25’ 29’)


YELLOW CARDS: 1 (Dominguez 71’)


15.Geronimo Prisciantelli 14.Jacopo Trulla 13.Luca Morisi 12.Enrico Lucchin 11.Lorenzo Pani 10.Giovanni Montemauri 9.Gonzalo Garcia 1.Danilo Fischetti 2.Giampietro Ribaldi 3.Muhamed Hasa 4.Leonard Krumov 5.Andrea Zambonin 6.Giacomo Ferrari 7.Davide Ruggeri 8.Giovanni Licata (captain)


16. Tommaso Di Bartolomeo 17.Alessio Sanavia 18.Juan Pitinari 19.David Sisi 20.Matteo Canali 21.Thomas Dominguez 22.Fetuli Paea 23.Bautista Stavile


TRIES: 4 (Elias 16’, Davies 21’ 32’, Lewis 43’)

CONVERSIONS: 3 (Lloyd 22’ 33’ 44’)

PENALTIES: 2 (Costelow 68’ 72’)




15.Ioan Nicholas 14.Tomi Lewis 13.Johnny Williams 12.Eddie James 11.Ryan Conbeer 10.Ioan Lloyd 9.Gareth Davies 1.Kemsley Mathias 2.Ryan Elias (captain) 3.Harri O’Connor 4.Alex Craig 5.Morgan Jones 6.Taine Plumtree 7.Dan Davis 8.Carwyn Tuipulotu


16.Shaun Evans 17.Wyn Jones 18.Sam Wainwright 19.Jarrod Taylor 20.Ben Williams 21.Kieran Hardy 22.Sam Costelow 23.Macs Page

Zebre Player Ratings

1. Danilo Fischetti – 5

No notable mistakes but did not play as well as he has for Italy, needed to show up more around the park.

2. Giampetro Ribaldi – 4

Constantly misfiring lineout and as hooker he takes most of the blame.

3. Muhamed Hasa- 7.5

Reliable at scrum time and great work rate to pop up for a second half try.

4. Leonard Krumov – 6

Real work horse but struggled to make any inroads against a resolute Scarlets defence.

5. Andrea Zambonin – 6

Aggressive on the ground and competitive in the air.

6. Giacomo Ferrari – 7

Really hard working and emptied the tank.

7. Davide Ruggeri – 5

Only noticeable impact on the breakdown was a penalty given against him.

8. Giovanni Licata © – 8

A real captain’s performance. Led by example when he muscled over for the first try of the game. The best indicator of his impact is how few shots Zebre fired after he was replaced in the second half.

9. Gonzalo Garcia – 7

Tried hard to marshal his forwards and dovetailed well with his captain as an  8-9 pairing, with Garcia’s line break followed by Licata’s carry setting up Hasa’s second half try.

10. Giovanni Montemauri – 4.5

Tried hard to get his backs firing but kicked a restart straight out and had his pass intercepted for Gareth Davies’ second try.

11. Lorenzo Pani – 7

Electric with ball in hand.

12. Enrico Lucchin – N/A

Not on long enough to rate.

13. Luca Morisi – 5

Needed more from this established international and outplayed by Johnny Williams.

14. Jacopo Trulla – 5

Total brain fade to throw the ball forwards in his own dead ball zone, gifting Scarlets vital territory.

15. Geronimo Prisciantelli – N/A

Not on long enough to rate.


16. Tommaso Di Bartolomeo – 6

Should have been brought on earlier, played well in his ten-minute cameo.

17. Alessio Sanavia – N/A

Not used.

18. Juan Pitinari – 6

Not as active around the park as Hasa but did not let his side down.

19. David Sisi – 6

The ex-England under-20 and senior Italian international brought his usual edge up front but was unable to emulate the man he replaced, Licata.

20. Matteo Canali – N/A

Not used.

21. Thomas Dominguez – 3

Only notable contribution was his sin binning in the 71st minute.

22. – Fetuli Paea – 6

Brought physicality after being subbed on in the first ten minutes but outplayed by his opposite man (Eddie James).

23.  Bautista Stavile – 7

Is usually a flanker but spent over an hour on the wing. Carried hard and fought valiantly but clearly out of position.

Scarlets Player Ratings

1. Kemsley Mathias – 6

Not as dominant with ball in hand compared to last week but helped to provide his team a platform for running rugby.

2. Ryan Elias © – 8

Massively improved from last week for the skipper. Was right in the thick of the action and finished the game with a well-deserved try. The Scarlets lineout was fantastic, and he can take most of the credit.

3. Harri O’Connor – 7

Busy with ball in hand and provided a solid scrum, putting his hand up for more international caps.

4. Alex Craig – 8

His no-nonsense style of play was missed last week against Ulster and against Zebre he showed his importance to the side. Went the full 80 and will hope that Gregor Townsend was watching.

5. Morgan Jones – 6

Great around the park but let himself down with two cheap penalties.

6. Taine Plumtree – 10

Was performing on another level in the first half. Assisting Elias’ try, setting up another with an audacious out the back offload, chasing kicks and hitting anything that moved. Even cleared out a ruck so hard that he seemed to injure himself, luckily not seriously. Will hope Gatland was watching.

7. Dan Davis – 8

Really influential at the break down all game, a proper openside flanker’s performance.

8. Carwyn Tuipulotu – 7

Worked well in tandem with his back row compatriots and showed his willingness to run through heavy traffic, time and time again.

9. Gareth Davies – 9

Outstanding game, his first try came from a perfect scrum-half support line, the second a fantastic defensive read. Hitting form at the right time before the summer internationals.

10. Ioan Lloyd – 8

Built on his strong cameo from last week and got his backline firing well.

11. Ryan Conbeer – 7

Strong in attack but poor kick out on the full.

12. Eddie James – 8

Played like Stuart McCloskey, the man who outplayed him last week. A constant source of front-foot ball for the Scarlets. His carry set up Tomi Lewis’ try.

13. Johnny Williams- 8

Worked hard to find space and was defending his channel as if his life depended on it. A performance befitting his test match credentials.

14. Tomi Lewis – 7

Finished his try well and fantastic when he gets involved, but that is not nearly enough. He needs to look for more work.

15. Ioan Nicholas – 7

A safe pair of hands under the high ball with electric feet.


16. Shaun Evans – 8

Came off the bench and earned a breakdown penalty immediately. Brought energy to a tiring side, a real impact substitute.

17. Wyn Jones – 8

Class operator, Scarlets should not be letting him leave. Strong at the set piece and worked hard when the ball was in play.

18. Sam Wainwright – 7

Scrum functioned well and worked hard in the loose.

19. Jarrod Taylor – 7

The South African looked tough and dynamic when he came on.

20. Ben Williams – N/A

Not on long enough to rate.

21. Kieran Hardy – 6

Did the basics well but should test the fringes of the ruck more as he has done countless times for the national team.

22. Sam Costelow – 8

A really classy player, much better this week behind a forward pack in the ascendancy. Steadied the ship and nailed two penalties when Zebre were threatening a comeback.

23. Macs Page – N/A

Not on long enough to rate.