BlitzBok's hat-trick seals Benetton win
MATCH REPORT: Former Sevens star Rhyno Smith scored 29 points – including a hat-trick of tries – as Benetton claimed a 39-17 victory over Italian rivals Zebre in the United Rugby Championship.
The South African touched down in the opening moments of each half, added another try before the hour and landed four conversions and two penalties in an impressive individual display at the Monigo Stadium.
Two tries in reply from Jacopo Trulla gave bottom side Zebre hope but, with Edoardo Padovani also crossing, Benetton had too much and Mattia Bellini’s late score sealed the win.
Smith’s first try came after just 49 seconds and Padovani followed him over to give the hosts a strong early advantage but they led only 14-11 at the break after Trulla led the Zebre response.
Benetton regained the initiative as Smith touched down from a kick in the opening minutes of the second period and he completed his hat-trick by jinking in from the left.
Trulla claimed a second after good work by Carlo Canna, who also notched seven points for the visitors, but Bellini wrapped up the win in the closing moments.
Tries: Smith 3, Padovani, Bellini
Cons: Smith 4
Pens: Smith 2
Tries: Trulla 2
Cons: Canna 2
Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Edoardo Padovani, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Alessandro Garbisi, 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Manuel Zuliani, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Ivan Nemer, 18 Nahuel Tetaz, 19 Giovanni Pettinelli, 20 Toa Halafihi, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Leonardo Marin, 23 Filippo Drago.
Zebre: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Jacopo Trulla, 13 Erich Cronjé, 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Alessandro Fusco, 8 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 7 Iacopo Bianchi, 6 Luca Andreani, 5 Andrea Zambonin, 4 David Sisi (captain), 3 Ion Neculai, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Giampietro Ribaldi, 17 Paolo Buonfiglio, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Gabriele Venditti, 20 Ross Vincent, 21 Nicolò Casilio, 22 Michelangelo Biondelli, 23 Franco Smith Jr.
Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Filippo Russo (Italy), Rosella Franco (Italy)
TMO: Matteo Liperini (Italy)
Sources: PA & RugbyPass