Benetton fight back to beat Stormers
URC MATCH REPORT: The Stormers got their United Rugby Championship campaign underway with an 18-22 defeat to Benetton in Treviso on Saturday.
The Capetonians were looking pretty with an 18-7 lead early in the second half before the Italians fought back with tries from Ivan Nemer and Tommaso Menoncello and a conversion and penalty from Tomas Albornoz to win the game.
The Stormers, at the beginning of a four-week tour of Europe, only had to wait 72 seconds before they opened their account when centre Rikus Pretorius collected a grubber-kick to cross over after two minutes at Stadio Monigo.
Debutant flyhalf Manie Libbok was unsuccessful with the resulting conversion and Rainbow Cup winners Benetton soon produced a response.
After gaining early dominance in the forward battle, it was hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi who restored parity with 16 minutes played.
Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro combined well with Manuel Zuliani, who offloaded to Lucchesi and the Italy international produced an excellent finish to run in from close to 40 yards.
Argentine flyhalf Albornoz, Paolo Garbisi’s replacement in Treviso, added the extras but his opposite number Libbok kicked his first points for the South Africans to give them an 11-7 lead at half-time.
John Dobson’s side extended that advantage early in the second period when Pretorius turned provider, showing quick feet under the posts before he offloaded to fellow centre Ruhan Nel who claimed an easy score.
Libbok’s latest successful kick had the visitors in control but Benetton fought back after they finally turned territory and possession into chances.
The bold decision to turn down an easy three points was vindicated near the hour mark when two of Benetton’s replacements combined, with Federico Ruzza claiming the line-out before Nemer went over after a driving maul.
An excellent conversion by Albornoz continued the momentum and when he nailed a penalty three minutes later, it narrowed the gap to one.
Marco Bortolami’s men were in the ascendancy and backed by a buoyant home crowd, the hosts moved in front.
Albornoz kept his cool after Benetton’s forwards had been held up on the line with Menoncello picked out on the left and the teenager finished off in the corner with 10 minutes left to give the Italians a hard-fought victory.
Man of the match: Evan Roos was outstanding for the Stormers once again with his powerful carries and hard work at the breakdowns. Fullback Warrick Gelant also had some good runs out wide. However, the award goes to Benetton’s Riccardo Favretto, who had a great game. He carried the ball well and he was highly physical in contact.
Tries: Lucchesi, Nemer, Menoncello
Cons: Albornoz 2
Tries: Pretorius, Nel
Pens: Libbok 2
Benetton: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ratuva Tavuyara, 13 Marco Zanon, 12 Joaquin Riera, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage (captain), 8 Riccardo Favretto, 7 Michele Lamaro, 6 Manuel Zuliani, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 1 Nahuel Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Giacomo Nicotera, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Ivan Nemer, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Lorenzo Cannone, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Leonardo Marin, 23 Tommaso Menoncello.
Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Salmaan Moerat (co-captain), 4 Ernst van Rhyn (co-captain), 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Leon Lyons.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Adre Smith, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Juan de Jongh.
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Federico Vedovelli (Italy), Alex Frasson (Italy)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
Additional source: @URCOfficial