Benetton's winning record continues
MATCH REPORT: Benetton maintained their 100 percent record in the PRO14 Rainbow Cup with a 20-12 victory over 14-man Connacht.
Unbeaten in three games in the tournament, Benetton extended their run with an excellent physical performance over the Irish province, who finished with 14 men after Abraham Papali’i’s 73rd minute red card.
Benetton’s dominance of the scrum limited Connacht’s chances throughout the game, especially in the second half, with the visitors unable to add to the scoresheet after their 42nd minute try.
Paolo Garbisi, who made six kicks from six two weeks ago, also had a fine game despite a slightly less impressive record with five successful penalty kicks.
Connacht found the breakthrough after just seven minutes following a driving maul, with Shane Delahunt putting it down over the line. Tom Daly dutifully converted the subsequent penalty.
Benetton hit back almost immediately to reduce the deficit, with Juan Ignacio Brex scoring the try, although they were unable to level the score with the kick going wide, leaving the home side trailing 7-5.
After surprisingly striking both posts with a penalty attempt in the 23rd minute, Benetton, with their second chance, managed to score and took the lead for the first time in the match.
The Italian side then extended their advantage just before the break with another penalty from Garbisi.
Connacht were determined as the 40 minutes were up and the game ticked into added time, with relentless driving towards the line including a penalty just metres out, but Benetton were able to hold out.
The visitors started the second half in similar fashion to the first and retook the lead through a Paul Boyle try with another powerful maul making up the distance before a successful kick.
However, Benetton pulled ahead as the half went on as a Garbisi penalty restored their lead before a a second extended their advantage, with Connacht reduced to 14 men following a yellow card for Finlay Bealham.
With Connacht trying to find their way back into the game, they were reduced to 14 men as Papali’i saw red for a dangerous tackle.
Garbisi then made no mistake from the following penalty to extend his side’s lead to a significant eight points.
The win means Benetton have a three-point lead at the top of the table with a trip to the Ospreys rounding off their campaign.
One more victory will ensure they feature in the North v South final on June 19 – which is being played at Benetton’s Stadio di Monigo.
Pens: Garbisi 5
Tries: Delahunt, Boyle
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 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Ivan Nemer, 18 Filippo Alongi, 19 Irné Herbst, 20 Manuel Zuliani, 21 Marco Barbini, 22 Callum Braley, 23 Ratuva Tavuyara.
Connacht: 15 John Porch, 14 Peter Sullivan, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Tom Daly, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Conor Fitzgerald, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Paul Boyle, 7 Jarrad Butler (captain), 6 Cian Prendergast, 5 Ultan Dillane, 4 Niall Murray, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Oisin Dowling, 20 Abraham Papali’i, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Sammy Arnold.
Referee: Ginaluca Gnecchi
Assistant Referees: Marius Mitrea, Federico Vedovelli
TMO: Stefano Penne