Benetton claim derby spoils
RAINBOW CUP Pro14 MATCH REPORT: Benetton followed up their shock win over Glasgow Warriors by claiming a 25-20 victory at Italian rivals Zebre on Friday.
The Treviso outfit’s triumph against the Warriors last month came after they failed to win a single game during the regular Pro14 season, in which they lost twice to Zebre.
However, they now have two wins from two in the Rainbow Cup following a hard-fought derby in Parma.
Edoardo Padovani went over for the visitors in the first half, but a penalty try helped Zebre go in level at 10-all at the break as Benetton ended the opening period with 13 men.
Paolo Garbisi and Carlo Canna then exchanged penalties before Federico Ruzza touched down to help Benetton into a 20-13 lead.
Canna looked to have rescued a draw for Zebre when he converted his own try five minutes from time, but Toa Halafihi had the final say ahead of a rematch between the sides in Treviso next weekend.
It was 23 minutes before either side troubled the scoreboard after both struggled to make their mark early on, with Paolo Pescetto splitting the posts from the tee to give Zebre the advantage.
It proved to be Pescetto’s last contribution as he took a heavy blow to the head in attempting to tackle Halafihi, leaving him requiring lengthy treatment on the field before departing on a stretcher.
The game’s first real spark arrived when quick hands from Benetton spread the ball wide to the right for Padovani to go over in the corner.
Zebre challenged the decision to award the try, suspecting the final pass from Marco Zanon to Padovani had gone forward, but their appeal was unsuccessful and Garbisi added the conversion.
Thomas Gallo was sin-binned five minutes from half-time as Benetton came under pressure in the scrum, and Zebre made their numerical advantage count immediately.
David Sisi touched down from a line-out maul but was subject to a TMO check for a double movement. As a result of the check, however, Benetton hooker Corniel Els was found to have collapsed the maul, handing Zebre a penalty try and earning himself a yellow card to reduce Benetton to 13.
That try gave the home side a 10-7 lead, but a Garbisi penalty pulled Benetton level before the interval.
Another Garbisi kick put Benetton 13-10 up before Canna levelled matters once more five minutes from the hour mark.
Benetton kept knocking on the door during a bruising period of pressure on the Zebre line and finally got their reward when Ruzza powered over, with Garbisi making it 20-13.
The sides looked to be heading for a draw when the TMO confirmed Canna had grounded his stretch for the line and the fly-half added the extras, but there was still time for Benetton to send Halafihi over for the match-winning score.
Player of the match
Not only did Halafihi deliver the winning try, but he also completed more carries, clean breaks and offloads than any other player, as well as making most metres.
A more than worthy recipient of the individual honour.
Play of the match
The match had lacked any real moments of quality until Benetton’s opening try brought it to life.
A series of quick passes gave Padovani a glimpse of the line that he chased down and did well to avoid putting a foot in touch.
Tries: Canna, Penalty try
Cons: Canna, penalty try does not require a conversion
Pens: Pescetto, Canna
Tries: Padovani, Ruzza, Halafihi
Cons: Garbisi 2
Pens: Garbisi 2
Zebre: 15 Michelangelo Biondelli, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Federico Mori, 12 Tommaso Boni (captain), 11 Gabriele Di Giulio, 10 Paolo Pescetto, 9 Nicolò Casilio, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Potu Junior Leavasa, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 David Sisi, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Paolo Buonfiglio, 18 Matteo Nocera, 19 Leonard Krumov, 20 Iacopo Bianchi, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Enrico Lucchin.
Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Edoardo Padovani, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage (captain), 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro, 6 Riccardo Favretto, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Filippo Alongi, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Ivan Nemer, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Irné Herbst, 20 Sebastian Negri, 21 Manuel Zuliani, 22 Callum Braley, 23 Ratuva Tavuyara.
Referee: Andrea Piardi
Assistant referees: Manuel Bottino, Riccardo Angelucci
TMO: Stefano Roscini