Benetton upset Leinster in Ireland
PRO14 REPORT: Benetton claimed their second-ever victory over Leinster with a Tommaso Allan-inspired triumph at the RDS Arena.
Leinster missed out on the opportunity to secure a home semifinal in the Pro14 Final Series, with Allan’s opportunistic try helping Marius Goosen’s troops come from behind to record their first win over their Irish opponents since the 2010-11 season, bringing a 14-match winless streak to an end.
Leinster looked to have got off to a dream start as the hosts drove forward from a line-out before hooker Richardt Strauss burst into life to dot down with less than seven minutes on the clock, Joey Carbery converting.
But Benetton hit back just four minutes later through an almost identical situation, the visitors attacking from a set piece and driving with their own relentless maul, eventually walking over the line to allow Luca Bigi to claim an unconverted try.
The scoreline would remain 7-5 for most of the first period as the two teams battled tooth and nail, with the Italians refusing to roll over as their opponents strived for a decisive victory.
But right on the stroke of half-time, Leinster stole a march as Jordan Larmour took flight and fed Barry Daly to crash over in the corner, Carbery unable to add the extras as his team took a seven-point lead into the break.
Early in the second half, Leinster set about attempting to increase their advantage as they rapped at the door but the Italians held firm.
They received more than adequate reward for that defensive solidarity in the 50th minute as Tito Tebaldi booted the ball skyward and then Jayden Hayward pounced upon the rebound before expertly offloading to Federico Ruzza, who raced away for his team’s second try of the evening.
Allan's attempted conversion flew wide of the mark as Benetton clawed their way back to within two points.
They were in front shortly afterwards when Allan got his foot to a misplaced Jack McGrath pass, hacked forward and then went over before adding the extras himself to shock the RDS Arena.
It wasn’t long before a Carbery penalty brought Leinster back to within a whisker, though, leaving the contest finely poised.
Despite the visitors having Tebaldi yellow-carded midway through the half, Leinster struggled to break down Benetton, who withstood everything the men in blue threw at them.
Tries: Strauss, Daly
Tries: Bigi, Ruzza, Allan
Yellow card: Tito Tebaldi (Benetton, 63)
Leinster: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Barry Daly, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Seán O’Brien, 6 Jordi Murphy, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Jack McGrath (captain).
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Peadar Timmins, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Adam Byrne.
Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Andrea Bronzini, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (captain), 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Sebastian Negri, 6 Federico Ruzza, 5 Alessandro Zanni, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Federico Zani.
Replacements: 16 Engjel Makelara, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Irné Herbst, 20 Marco Fuser, 21 Dean Budd, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Tommaso Benvenuti.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Aled Evans (Wales), Jonathan Peak (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)