Benetton claim honours in Italian derby
PRO14 REPORT: Angelo Esposito helped himself to a double as Benetton claimed the bragging rights with a 27-14 victory over 14-man Zebre at the Stadio Monigo.
The Italy wing crossed once in each half, with Hame Faiva and Edoardo Gori wrapping up all five points for Kieran Crowley’s side.
Zebre lost flanker Johan Meyer to a red card in the second half, and despite staying in touch for much of the game, scoring a try with 14 men through Giulio Bisegni, Gori’s effort ten minutes from time ended their hopes.
The visitors had the better of the early stages with Carlo Canna looking dangerous when he got his hands on the ball.
His clever chip should have led to the first try, but after he had collected the ball, his pass to Tommaso Boni did not go to hand with the centre seemingly through but unable to hold on.
Benetton had been very much on the back foot, but when they got their first real chance, they took it. After hammering away at the line on the left, Benetton then spread it right with Jayden Hayward providing a selfless final pass for Esposito to cross when he probably could have scored himself.
Marty Banks missed the conversion, but Benetton were in front and looked to be growing into the game as a result.
It was Zebre who struck next, however, Marcello Violi slotting a simple penalty after the home side had strayed offside on their own 22.
Leading by two at the break, Benetton stretched their lead within a minute of the restart as they punished a Zebre mistake.
The visitors tried to run the ball out of their own 22, but when they let a ball squirt loose at a ruck, the ball was shifted to Faiva, who had only just come on, and he was never going to be stopped by Violi at that range.
Banks converted but Zebre responded quickly with three points from the boot of Carlo Canna to make it 12-6.
Zebre’s task became much harder on 46 minutes when flanker Meyer was sent off for kicking out at Dean Budd on the floor. The Benetton second row was also given a yellow for holding onto Meyer, but it handed the home side a numerical advantage for much of the remainder of the game.
Banks rubbed salt into the wounds by slotting the resulting penalty.
The visitors could have crumbled at that moment, instead they hit straight back with their first try. It came from a break by Matteo Minozzi, and he played the two-on-one perfectly to send Bisegni over for the try.
And that was soon followed by another three points from the boot of Canna, despite the return of Budd to the action, with the visitors seemingly unaffected by being a man down.
However, just as it appeared that Zebre were getting back into it, Benetton struck again, once more from top scorer Esposito.
After lots of work from the forwards, Benetton chose to go to their backs, with Banks holding onto the ball long enough before sending Esposito over for the simple finish.
Benetton needed one more try for the bonus point, and it came after a dominant scrum. While Robert Barbieri could not control it all the way to the line, as it popped out, replacement Gori collected and dotted down.
Tries:Esposito 2, Faiva, Gori
Cons: Banks, McKinley
Pens: Violi, Canna 2
Yellow cards: Dean Budd (Benetton, 46), Hame Faiva (Benetton, 78)
Red card: Johan Meyer (Zebra, 46)
Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Whetu Douglas, 5 Dean Budd (captain), 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Tomas Baravalle, 1 Nicola Quaglio.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Cherif Traore, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Marco Barbini, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Tommaso Benvenuti.
Zebre: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Tommaso Castello (captain), 11 Giulio Bisegni, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 George Biagi, 4 David Sisi, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D’Apice, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Roberto Tenga, 19 Jacopo Sarto, 20 Derick Minnie, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Serafin Bordoli, 23 Ciaran Gaffney.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Manuel Bottino, Andrea Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)