Edinburgh get their revenge in Italy
PRO14 REPORT: Dougie Fife crossed twice in the second half as Edinburgh gained their revenge on Benetton with a 24-13 win at the Stadio Monigo
It was the Italians who had ended Richard Cockerill's unbeaten start to the Guinness PRO14 season back in Round Three, and for periods of this game they looked like they might complete the double over the Scots.
But Fife popped up twice in the final 20 minutes to allow Edinburgh to pull clear and earn a vital victory in Conference B.
Edinburgh had started the better with an early try for Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, but Benetton fought back before the break with two Ian McKinley penalties.
And when Angelo Esposito finished a great team try, it was the home side who led for the first time. Edinburgh responded immediately with a score from Fife, followed by a Jason Tovey penalty and when Fife crossed again, there was no way back for the home side.
Benetton were dealt an early blow when hooker Luca Bigi was forced off with less than two minutes gone, replaced by Tomas Baravalle.
And with three gone Edinburgh had taken the lead with a well-worked try. After a scrum Edinburgh went through the hands with Blair Kinghorn slicing through then finding James Johnstone. He fed the ball back inside to Hidalgo-Clyne for the simplest of run-ins. Tovey converted to make it 7-0 with Edinburgh off to a flyer.
They had the better of much of the opening half, notably with a dominant scrum as WP Nel caused Federico Zani lots of problems.
However, Tovey was off-target with a shot at goal, after Edinburgh had already turned down one shot at the posts.
Their cause looked to be made easier when Benetton lost Francesco Minto to the sin-bin, the flank penalised after stopping Hidalgo-Clyne from taking a quick tap penalty.
But that appeared to galvanise the home side, and they were able to work their way back into the match.
First McKinley slotted a penalty for a high tackle, and then in the dying stages of the half, Nel was caught going off his feet at a ruck and the flyhalf added three more to cut the deficit to a single point at the break.
Back up to a full complement shortly after half-time, Benetton carried their momentum with them and produced some sublime skill to take the lead for the first time.
Around midfield Ignacio Brex put in a delightful kick through off the outside of his boot, with Luca Sperandio collecting after some hesitation in the Edinburgh defence. The ball was then quickly recycled and spread back to the right where Esposito was able to race over. McKinley’s conversion made it 13-7.
That lead was short-lived, with Edinburgh hitting back almost immediately. On his 50th appearance for the side, Kinghorn threatened again, drawing in one man then beating another with a clever pass out of the back of the hand to put Dougie Fife over. Tovey converted from the touchline to make it 14-13.
He added another penalty soon after, with McKinley’s equivalent effort coming back off the posts for the home side.
That seemed to take the wind out of Benetton, and again it was the combination of Kinghorn and Fife that set up try number three, with the winger finishing a perfectly-orchestrated two-on-one.
Benetton thought they had earned a last-second losing bonus point when Sperandio went over, but he had put a hand in touch before dotting the ball down.
Pens: McKinley 2
Tries: Hidalgo-Clyne, Fife 2
Cons: Tovey 3
Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luca Sperandio, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Dean Budd, 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Francesco Minto, 5 Dean Budd (captain), 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Federico Zani.
Replacements: 16 Tomas Baravalle, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Alessandro Zanni, 21 Sebastian Negri, 22 Giorgio Bronzini, 23 Tommaso Benvenuti.
Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Jason Tovey ,9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Luke Crosbie, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Fraser McKenzie (capatin), 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Darryl Marfo.
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Lewis Carmichael, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Glenn Bryce, 23 Chris Dean.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse
Assistant Referees: Gwyn Morris, Claudio Blessano
TMO: Sean Brickell