Kings' slide continues
PRO14 REPORT: A first-half hat-trick from Hame Faiva ensured Benetton returned to winning ways as they consigned Southern Kings to their sixth consecutive defeat.
Benetton maintained their perfect record against the Kings, with a 22-19 victory – to pick up points on the road for the first time since beating Dragons at Rodney Parade in Round One.
Hooker Faiva capitalised on Benetton’s forward dominance as he scored three almost identical tries to give the visitors a 17-7 lead at the interval, with Kings responding through Tertius Kruger.
A brilliant individual score from Monty Ioane sealed the bonus-point for Benetton, before Kings made it interesting with two late tries from Luvuyo Pupuma and a second for Kruger.
But it was not enough to rescue the result for Kings, who remain bottom of Conference B with just one win to their name, while Benetton moved above Edinburgh into fourth.
The Italians went into the game having only won one of their last seven games, which also came against the South African side in the reverse fixture in October.
Kings were also on a winless streak stretching back to September and they suffered the worst possible start when a driving line-out maul ended with Faiva crashing over.
The hosts responded quickly with a try of their own through inside centre Kruger, who cut through the Benetton defensive line with a devastating run to dot down.
Masixole Banda successfully converted the extras to give Kings the lead, but it would prove to be the last time they would have their noses in front as they struggled to deal with Benetton’s power.
Knowing they had the advantage in the forward pack, the visitors took advantage of a penalty to kick to the corner and set up another line-out from which they exerted more pressure.
The rolling maul was only ever going to end in one way as Benetton powered over for their second try, with Faiva once again the man to put the finishing touches to the move.
Ian McKinley was able to convert this time to extend Benetton’s lead to 12-7, before Faiva claimed his third try of the game just before the break.
It was a case of déjà vu as a line-out deep in Southern Kings’ territory was executed to perfection, allowing Faiva to sit pretty behind the maul and crash over the line.
The bonus-point followed soon after the break, but rather than relying on forward power, Benetton’s fourth try owed everything to brilliant play from the backline.
Tommaso Iannone broke at pace and placed a grubber kick through for Ioane, who shrugged off Michael Botha and gathered the ball just before it went into touch to cross the whitewash.
Kings showed their fighting spirit by scoring their second try through Pupuma with six minutes left on the clock, converted by Banda, to close the gap to 22-14.
A stunning break from Harlon Klaasen then set up a second try of the game for Kruger, who gathered the ball and stormed over the line to earn a losing bonus point for Kings.
But it was too little, too late to affect the result as Benetton emerged triumphant.
A brilliant performance from @BenettonRugby as they break their losing streak 💪
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) December 1, 2018
For the Southern Kings:
Tries: Kruger 2, Pupuma
Cons: Banda 2
Tries: Faiva 3, Ioane
Yellow card: Masixole Banda (Southern Kings, 80)
Southern Kings: 15 Botha Michael, 14 Penxe Yaw, 13 Rokoua Meli, 12 Kruger Tertius, 11 Basson Bjorn, 10 Masixole Banda, 9 Ungerer Stefan, 8 Lerm Ruaan, 7 Burger Martinus, 6 Velleman Cyril-John, 5 Astle John-Charles (captain), 4 Greeff Stephan, 3 Scholtz Pieter, 2 Van Vuuren Kerron, 1 Oosthuizen Nicolaas.
Replacements: 16 Balekile Tango, 17 Tshakweni Alulutho, 18 Pupuma Luvuyo, 19 Oelofse Schalk, 20 Van Schalkwyk Andries, 21 Masimla Godlen, 22 Beyers Ulrich, 23 Klaasen Harlon.
Benetton: 15 Angelo Esposito, 14 Ratuva Tavuyara, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Marco Barbini (captain), 7 Michele Lamaro, 6 Giovanni Pettinelli, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Nicola Quaglio.
Replacements: 16 Engjel Makelara, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Giuseppe Di Stefano, 19 Niccolò Cannone, 20 Marco Lazzaroni, 21 Giorgio Bronzini, 22 Antonio Rizzi, 23 Alberto Sgarbi.
Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Ruhan Meiring (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)