James Botham scored a brace of tries as Cardiff Rugby fought to a 34-30 win over Zebre Parma ahead of their EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16 match against Sale Sharks next week.

The two United Rugby Championship (URC) sides scored seven tries between them, with Cardiff’s coming courtesy of a double from Botham and one apiece from Liam Belcher and Mason Grady.

Botham’s two tries both came in quick succession as the Welsh side bounced back from an early Zebre try at the Stadio Lanfranchi, with the boot of Rhys Priestland kicking both conversions and a penalty to put Cardiff 17-7 up.

But another Zebre try in the first period and a penalty either side of the break had the Italians 18-17 up early in the second period.

Cardiff responded fast, with Grady and then Belcher crossing for converted scores by the 51st minute. Jarrod Evans then kicked a 66th minute penalty, which became key when Shane Lewis-Hughes was sent to the sin-bin late in the game.

The Italian side scored two late tries to make the game interesting, but they failed to finish the job and Cardiff held on to win.

Cardiff can now look forward to the Sale game, which will take place at Cardiff Arms Park.