Cape Town - The Cheetahs claimed a narrow 24-23 victory over Zebre in their PRO14 clash in Parma on Friday.
The men from Bloemfontein had to dig deep and only secured the result courtesy of a Fred Zeilinga penalty with the final act of the match.
Earlier, the Cheetahs scored the first points of the match through an Ernst Stapelberg penalty before Makazola Mapimpi went in for a try in the seventh minute to give the Cheetahs an eight-point lead.
Carlo Canna fired back for Zebre with two quick-fire penalties before Matteo Minozzi scored a try for the hosts after 18 minutes which put them in the lead. Canna landed another penalty to make the half-time score 16-8 to Zebre.
Stapelberg landed two early penalties in the second-half to reduce the deficit for his side before Oliviero Fabiani scored for Zebre four minute later to cancel out those place kicks.
Mapimpi was at it again when he crossed for his second try of the evening which made it a two-point game. The home side managed to keep the Cheetahs at bay as the clock wound down but Zeilinga broke their hearts when he slotted his penalty at the death.
Tries: Minozzi, Fabiani
Conversions: Canna (2)
Penalties: Canna (3)
Tries: Mapimpi (2)
Penalties: Stapelberg (3), Zeilinga
15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Giulio Bisegni, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Tommaso Castello (captain), 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Derick Minnie, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Giovanni Licata, 5 Valerio Bernabò, 4 Leonard Krumow, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Sami Panico
Substitutes: 16 Luhandre Luus, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Jacopo Sarto, 20 Renato Giammarioli, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Serafin Bordoli, 23 Ciaran Gaffney
15 Sergeal Petersen, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Makazola Mapimpi, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Oupa Mohoje, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Nico Lee