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Benetton stun Edinburgh with thrilling win

MATCH REPORT: Marco Zanon scored a pair of tries to lead Benetton to a come-from-behind 24-22 United Rugby Championship victory over Edinburgh in Scotland.

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Toulouse-bound Blair Kinghorn scored a double on his farewell home outing for boyhood club Edinburgh but it ended in disappointment as his late error gifted Benetton the win.

For a long period of the night Kinghorn looked on course to be the hero as his two tries – either side of a score from Matt Currie – had the Scots in the driving seat.

But, in a cruel twist, Kinghorn’s 68th-minute mistake allowed Benetton centre Marco Zanon to score his second try of the night and edged the Italians into a slender lead they held on to until the end.

Edinburgh started strongly and – after Duhan van der Merwe squandered a second-minute chance – Kinghorn had the home crowd in raptures as he darted over in the third minute after being fed on the right by Ben Healy, who subsequently added the extras.

The hosts were forced into a change when Dave Cherry went off injured and was replaced by fellow Scotland hooker Ewan Ashman.

Edinburgh continued on the front foot and after James Lang had a score ruled out following a TMO review, they got their second try in the 14th minute when Currie eased his way over from close range after being played in by a perfect kick out to the left from Healy. The stand-off was off-target with his conversion attempt.

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Both sides then had tries chalked off following TMO reviews, with Benetton’s Malakai Fekitoa penalised for a knock-on as he tried to force the ball down before Currie’s effort for Edinburgh was ruled out due to a forward pass by Kinghorn.

Benetton got themselves back into the game with a sensational solo score from Ignacio Mendy in the 32nd minute as the wing grabbed the ball five metres in front of his own try-line and raced almost the full length of the pitch unchecked, leaving Healy in his wake as he surged over the line. Jacob Umaga converted.

Four minutes later an Umaga penalty brought the Italians within two points of their hosts.

In the last action of the half Edinburgh reasserted their authority as Kinghorn bolted in for his second of the evening after good build-up play from Healy, Van der Merwe and Wes Goosen. Healy converted to open up a nine-point lead at the interval.

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But Benetton hit back early in the second half as Zanon pushed his way through after a lineout, with Umaga converting.

Having lost their way following their bright opening to the match, Edinburgh moved five points clear in the 54th minute with a penalty from Healy after Benetton replacement Mirco Spagnolo was yellow-carded for collapsing the maul.

But the Italians managed to get ahead for the first time in the 68th minute when Kinghorn got in a terrible tangle just in front of his own line and fumbled the ball into the path of Zanon who dotted down for his second try. Umaga was again on point with the conversion.

The visitors had Eli Snyman sent off for a head-on-head tackle on Van der Merwe with two minutes left but Edinburgh – who would have gone top of the table with a win – were unable to muster the score they needed, with Healy sending a last-gasp drop-goal attempt wide.

Player of the Match
On a night when Blair Kinghorn looked on course to be the star of the show with a double in his final home match for Edinburgh, the Toulouse-bound fullback was upstaged by Benetton centre Marco Zanon, whose two second-half tries ultimately proved decisive in a closely-fought match.

Play of the Match
Benetton were trailing 12-0 and in danger of being blown away by their hosts until the 32nd minute when Ignacio Mendy got them up and running with a sensational solo try. After Edinburgh’s Wes Goosen was dispossessed, the Argentine wing scooped up the loose ball just five metres in front of his own try-line and raced almost the full length of the pitch unchecked, leaving Ben Healy in his wake as he surged over the line.

The scorers:

For Edinburgh:
Tries: Kinghorn, Currie, Kinghorn
Cons: Healy 2
Pens: Healy

For Benetton:
Tries: Mendy, Zanon 2
Cons: Umaga 3
Pens: Umaga

Teams

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Matt Currie, 12 James Lang, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Ali Price, 8 Luke Crosbie, 7 Connor Boyle, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Glen Young, 3 WP Nel, 2 Dave Cherry, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Angus Williams, 19 Marshall Sykes, 20 Tom Dodd, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Chris Dean.

Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Paolo Odogwu, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Ignacio Mendy, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Alessandro Izekor, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Edoardo Iachizzi, 3 Giosué Zilocchi, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Bautista Bernasconi, 17 Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Riccardo Favretto, 20 Toa Halafihi, 21 Henry Time-Stowers, 22 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 23 Giacomo Da Re.

Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Ian Kenny (Scotland); David Sutherland (Scotland)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)

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