Skipper Rhys Webb struck late on to seal the win for the Ospreys in a dour encounter at the Liberty Stadium.
The man overlooked by Wales produced a moment of magic six minutes from time, with his team down to 14 men and clinging on to a narrow lead.
From a lineout maul out on the left, he spotted a gap and burst down the touchline, breaking a tackle to cross and slide in.
It was a score that capped a second successive Man of the Match display from the scrum-half who was a lively presence throughout.
Josh Thomas added the conversion to add to his earlier penalty, as the Ospreys gained revenge for November’s defeat to Zebre out in Parma.
A win’s a win and they will be pleased with the points.
But it’s safe to say it wasn’t a classic encounter!
The opening 40 minutes was a grim old affair as rain swept across the Liberty Stadium.
Securing their own lineout ball was a real challenge for the hosts, with a series of throws being picked off.
They also had issues at scrum-time, conceding a couple of penalties there, so their efforts were undermined at source by set-piece problems, with Zebre having the better of the half overall.
Skipper for the night Webb was doing everything he could to spark his side, sniping around the fringes, showing he hasn’t let his head drop following his continued omission from Wales’ Six Nations squad.
One dummying dart threatened a score, while a break down the narrow side of the scrum was followed by an intelligent chip over the top.
But such good positions would then be lost as the lineout went wrong.
Opposing fly-halves Antonio Rizzi and Josh Thomas were both off target with penalty attempts, before young Thomas finally opened the scoring with the final kick of the half.
Things didn’t improve any in the third quarter. It remained a really tough watch.
Nigel Owens had given a couple of warnings to both captains about mounting penalties and 11 minutes from time he eventually lost patience.
Ospreys replacement hooker Ifan Phillips was the man to see yellow and head to the sin bin for coming in at the side of a ruck and slowing the ball down.
But despite being reduced to 14 men, it was the hosts who secured the spoils with the only try of the game, through their skipper.
Speaking after the game, Webb said: “I am just enjoying myself playing week-in, week-out for the Ospreys. That’s all I can do.”
Ospreys: Try – R Webb; con – J Thomas; pen – J Thomas
Ospreys: Dan Evans, Mat Protheroe, Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, Keiran Williams, Luke Morgan, Josh Thomas, Rhys Webb (CAPT), Gareth Thomas, Sam Parry, Ma’afu Fia, Lloyd Ashley, Rhys Davies, Olly Cracknell, Sam Cross, Morgan Morris
Replacements: Ifan Phillips, Garyn Phillips, Tom Botha, Will Griffiths, Gareth Evans, Shaun Venter, Joe Hawkins, Keelan Giles
Zebre: Michelangelo Biondelli, Pierre Bruno, Tommaso Boni, Enrico Lucchin, Mattia Bellini, Antonio Rizzi, Nicolò Casilio, Daniele Rimpelli, Oliviero Fabiani, Eduardo Bello, Mick Kearney, Ian Nagle, Lorenzo Masselli, Potu Junior Leavasa, Renato Giammarioli.
Replacements: Massimo Ceciliani, Paolo Buonfiglio, Matteo Nocera, Leonard Krumov, Samuele Ortis, Alessandro Fuscco, Paolo Pescetto, Jamie Elliott.
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
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