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Zebre Rugby will meet Bath Rugby for the first time when they host the English side in the European Rugby Challenge Cup Round of 16.
Zebre are unbeaten in their last four Challenge Cup games, finishing fifth in this season’s preliminary stage after drawing 25-25 with Bayonne before scraping a narrow 18-16 win away at Brive.
Meanwhile Bath, who have won all 10 of their games against Italian sides, dropped out of the Heineken Champions Cup after picking up just one point in Pool A
The game at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi begins at 15:00 (UK and Irish time) on April 2 and will be available to watch on BT Sport in the United Kingdon and Sky Italia on the continent.
Zebre Rugby; 5th European Rugby Challenge Cup Prelim Round; 6 points
Bath Rugby; 10th Heineken Champions Cup Pool A; 1 point
This is the first meeting in European competition between the two sides.
1️⃣6️⃣ sides remain in contention for the title and we've got some mouth-watering clashes ahead this weekend 🔥
Who are you backing to go all the way this season? pic.twitter.com/UcSkAVYxC2
— Challenge Cup (@ERChallengeCup) March 29, 2021
- This will be the first encounter between Zebre and Bath in European competition.
- Zebre are unbeaten in their last four games in the Challenge Cup (W2 D2), their best run in the competition; they were leading at half-time in each of those four games.
- Each of Zebre’s last two home games in the Challenge Cup ended in a draw (7-7 v Bristol, 25-25 v Bayonne), the first time that a team has had consecutive draws at home in the competition.
- Bath lost their most recent game in the Challenge Cup (25-28 in the 2017 semi-final against Stade Francais), but are yet to lose consecutive games in the competition.
- Bath have won all 10 of their games against Italian sides, by an average margin of 44 points.
- Bath have lost two of their last three away games in the Challenge Cup (W1) after winning the previous 15; they have conceded 20+ points in each of their last four away games, after conceding 20+ points in only one of their previous 10 away games in the competition.
- Zebre have won just three of 18 European fixtures against Premiership opponents (D1, L14), their last three such games have all come against Bristol Bears and seen them record one win, one draw and one defeat.
- Zebre have averaged 68 carries per game in the Challenge Cup this season, fewer than any other side in the competition.
- Bath averaged 14 kicks from hand in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, the fewest of any side.
- Zebre have averaged the least time in possession of any side in the Challenge Cup this season (11m 43s).
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Bath Rugby secured the first European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final spot on Friday afternoon but were made to fight back from 14 points down before eventually seeing off Zebre Rugby Club 35-27 in Parma.
The hosts got off to a stunning start, bagging the opener inside four minutes through wing Pierre Bruno.
He managed to maintain possession despite pressure from the English outfit and dot down in the corner, with Carlo Canna coolly converting.
It was Canna setting up Bruno for the second try, with the fly-half chipping a lovely ball in behind, finding Bruno who collected and scored with relative ease.
Bath soon hit back after a good shove at the attacking scrum, allowing them to Bath spread to the left wing and finding Joe Cokanasiga who powered past the final defender to dot down in the corner.
Just look at this genius offload from @Ben_spencer9! 🤤
Backwards, through the legs! 💫
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 2, 2021
Bruno then grabbed his first-half hat-trick as Bath fumbled possession in the ruck and after one phase, the wing collected, chipped and with no Bath defenders at home, he held on after a tricky bounce and dived over for his third of the afternoon.
But the match swung just before the break, as Bath’s Will Stuart bulldozed over with the clock in the red to leave the English side just seven points behind at the break.
A powerful score from Ben Obano and then an Anthony Watson try after a nice break from Orlando Bailey pushed Bath ahead for the first time.
Zebre weren’t done with and got back within a point through two Paolo Pescotto penalties, but that was as close as they came with the driving maul from Bath proving fruitful as Jacques du Toit nudged over to secure the spot in the last eight.
The English side will host either London Irish or Cardiff Blues in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.