Benetton thrash Zebre in Parma
URC REPORT: Benetton confirmed their current superiority over Italian rivals Zebre Parma with a dominant 39-14 United Rugby Championship victory at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
Zebre had kicked off 2021 with back-to-back wins over the men from Treviso, but it was Benetton who prevailed in their final fixture of the year – the first of a derby doubleheader, with the return meeting scheduled for January 2.
Federico Ruzza, Giovanni Pettinelli and Tommaso Menoncello went over to give the Rainbow Cup champions, who beat Zebre twice in May, a 24-0 lead at the break.
Ignacio Brex stretched the lead further and although Tommaso Boni and Giulio Bisegni scored a pair of consolation tries for Zebre in quick succession, replacement flyhalf Leonardo Marin rounded off the scoring for Benetton, for whom Rhyno Smith kicked 14 points.
Zebre have not won a match in the competition since beating the Dragons at home in February, while the result is Benetton’s first win on the road since their last trip to Parma in May.
Carlo Canna missed an opportunity to open the scoring with a long-range penalty in the third minute, opening the door for Smith to kick the first points of the match at the other end two minutes later.
Benetton looked the sharper of the two sides and Ruzza barged over following a tap-and-go after 16 minutes, with Smith adding the extras for a 10-0 lead.
Monty Ioane then showed a trademark turn of pace to exploit a gap in the Zebre defence before offloading to Pettinelli outside him for the touchdown.
Smith was again on target from the tee and things got worse for Zebre when Asaeli Tuivuaka was sin-binned for a high contact on the flyhalf.
Benetton capitalised on their man advantage as Menoncello crossed and Smith converted for a commanding half-time lead.
Smith stretched the lead by a further three points with a penalty 12 minutes into the second half and the bonus point was in the bag two minutes later when a clever Menoncello offload sent Brex over in the corner.
Smith stayed perfect from the tee and although Boni and Bisegni showed signs of life with a pair of tries in the space of three minutes, Marin put the result beyond any doubt nine minutes from time.
Tries: Boni, Bisegni
Cons: Canna, O’Malley
Tries: Ruzza, Pettinelli, Menoncello, Brex, Marin
Cons: Smith 4
Pens: Smith 2
Zebre: 15 Jacopo Trulla, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Giulio Bisegni (captain), 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Asaeli Tuivuaka, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Giovanni Licata, 7 Maxime Mbandà, 6 Liam Mitchell, 5 Andrea Zambonin, 4 David Sisi, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Giampietro Ribaldi, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Ion Neculai, 19 Leonard Krumov, 20 Iacopo Bianchi, 21 Marcello Violi, 22 Timothy Paul O’Malley, 23 Junior Laloifi.
Benetton: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Luca Sperandio, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Rhyno Smith, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Giovanni Pettinelli, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Ivan Nemer, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Cherif Traoré, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Sebastian Negri, 21 Alessandro Garbisi, 22 Leonardo Marin, 23 Joaquin Riera.
Referee: Andrea Piardi
Assistant Referees: Federico Vedovell, Dario Merli
TMO: Stefano Roscini