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Benetton snatch last-gasp victory over Connacht

MATCH REPORT: Benetton boosted their United Rugby Championship play-off hopes with a dramatic 18-14 win over Connacht at Stadio Monigo.


It ended a run of three defeats for the Italians and saw them replace Connacht in the play-off places.

Ignacio Mendy also crossed for Benetton, with Jacob Umaga adding a conversion and two penalties.

Niall Murray and Cian Prendergast scored Connacht’s tries, with Jack Carty converting both.

Benetton went ahead on six minutes with the simplest of tries from an attacking scrum 15 metres out from the Connacht line.

A clean win set the platform and Alessandro Garbisi drew his man before flipping the ball out to flyhalf Umaga and his long cut-out pass to Mendy gave the winger the easiest of touchdowns in the corner, with Umaga adding the extras from the touchline.

Umaga then stretched the advantage to 10-0 when Connacht was penalised for a dangerous clear-out on the 10-metre line.


After an attritional period with neither team able to get the upper hand, Connacht got themselves back into the game eight minutes before the break.

Scrumhalf Michael McDonald faked to pass long and popped a short pass up to lock Murray to charge through a gaping hole in the Benetton backline and touch down under the posts.

The first points of the second half finally arrived with 12 minutes remaining when Umaga sent over a straightforward penalty as Benetton were rewarded for sustained pressure and took a 13-7 advantage into the final 10 minutes.

But back came Connacht as they elected to send a kickable penalty to the corner and, after knocking on the door in a series of phases just metres from the line, Prendergast picked up from the back of the maul to dive over under the posts and Carty’s conversion put Connacht ahead for the first time in the match.


Umaga sent a drop goal narrowly wide before Izekor bulldozed his way over in the corner to snatch victory with the final play of the game as Benetton was camped in the Connacht 22.

Man of the Match: Ignacio Brex shone for Italy during the Six Nations and displayed his international quality as he was at the heart of everything for Benetton on both sides of the ball. Strong in defence and robust in attack, more often than not when Benetton broke it came through him.


For Benetton:
Tries: Mendy, Izekor
Cons: Umaga
Pens: Umaga 2

For Connacht:
Tries: Murray, Prendergast
Cons: Carty 2


Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Ignacio Mendy, 13 Tommaso Menoncello, 12 Ignacio Brex, 11 Onisi Ratave, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Alessandro Garbisi, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro, 6 Alessandro Izekor, 5 Eli Snyman (captain), 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Giosué Zilocchi, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Bautista Bernasconi, Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Lorenzo Cannone, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Tomas Albornoz, 23 Malakai Fekitoa.

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Diarmuid Kilgallen, 13 David Hawkshaw, 12 Cathal Forde, 11 Andrew Smith, 10 Jack Carty (captain) 9 Michael McDonald, 8 Paul Boyle, 7 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 6 Cian Prendergast, 5 Joe Joyce, 4 Niall Murray, 3 Jack Aungier, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Jordan Duggan.
Replacements: 16 Eoin de Buitléar, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Sam Illo, 19 Darragh Murray, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Colm Reilly, 22 Shane Jennings, 23 Shayne Bolton.

Referee: Morne Ferreira (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Federico Vedovelli (Italy) and Manuel Bottino (Italy)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)


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