United Rugby Championship: Lions hold off Zebre fightback; Cardiff Blues and Ulster triumph
South Africa side the Lions held off a determined fightback from Zebre in Italy to open the new competition with a win; Cardiff Blues defeated Connacht and Ulster were victorious at home to Glasgow Warriors
Last Updated: 24/09/21 10:51pm
A round-up of all of Friday's action in the new United Rugby Championship, with three games taking place...
Zebre 26-38 Lions
Lions survived a stunning second-half fightback from Zebre to begin the inaugural United Rugby Championship with a thrilling 38-26 win in Parma.
The South Africans looked set to blow away their hosts as a pair of quickfire tries from Rabz Maxwane added to scores from Jamba Ulengo, Burger Odendaal and Jaco Visagie to help establish a commanding 35-0 half-time advantage at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
The Italians registered just four wins from 21 games across the PRO14 and Rainbow Cup last season and they were swiftly staring down the barrel as the curtain raised on the new competition.
But Zebre produced an astonishing response thanks to scores from Carlo Canna, Tommaso Boni, Oliviero Fabiani and a penalty try before agonisingly falling short.
The Lions' quest for victory was also boosted by 13 points from the boot of Jordan Hendrikse while Canna kicked four points for the hosts.
Cardiff Blues 33-21 Connacht
Cardiff began their United Rugby Championship campaign with a bonus-point victory over Connacht at the Arms Park.
A brace of tries from Owen Lane along with touchdowns from Hallam Amos, Willis Halaholo and Liam Belcher got them over the line and Jarrod Evans and Tomos Williams kicked eight points between them.
The victory for Cardiff came despite fly-half Rhys Priestland being forced to depart the field early after taking a heavy knock to the head.
In a cruel twist of fate replacement No 10 Evans was also forced off as he hurt his ribs attempting to win the ball in the air, resulting in scrum-half Williams having to play the rest of the game in the unfamiliar position.
Kieran Marmion scored both of Connacht's tries with Jack Carty kicking 11 points.
Ulster 35-29 Glasgow Warriors
Ulster held on to win their opening United Rugby Championship clash against Glasgow Warriors and take maximum points after scoring five tries.
Played in front of 10,000 supporters at the Kingspan Stadium - the largest number since the pandemic - Ulster scored through a penalty try as well as touchdowns from Brad Roberts, Marty Moore, Nick Timoney and Nathan Doak.
Glasgow bagged two points from what was a robust display and scored through George Horne, Johnny Matthews, a penalty try and a touchdown from Jamie Dobie.
Both teams had men sent to the sin-bin too. Glasgow lost Cole Forbes early on for a deliberate knock-on, while Ulster's James Hume spent 10 minutes on the sidelines in the second half after being adjudged to have illegally hit Rufus McLean in the act of scoring.