Record-breaking Benetton slay Dragons
PRO14 MATCH REPORT: Benetton set a club record of five consecutive wins with a 18-15 victory over Dragons at Rodney Parade.
Two tries in the first seven minutes from Jared Rosser and Liam Belcher were cancelled out instantly with Benetton scores from Alberto Sgarbi and Monty Ioane, then two second half penalties secured the win for the visitors.
The game was ignited in the first minute, as Rio dyer took a high ball and sliced through the Benetton defence, before Zane Kirchner put a lovely grubber through for Rosser to latch onto in the corner.
Rynard Landman almost extended the hosts' lead but was just short of the post base with an outstretched arm and the referee brought play back for the penalty advantage.
Dragons scored from a driving maul from a line-out only seconds later, with Belcher rumbling over for his first.
Kirchner's clearance from inside his own 22 was charged down by Sgarbi, who collected the bounce and leaped over to get one back for Benetton and Ian McKinley added the extras.
The visitor's then got another score almost instantly to take the lead as Ioane squeezed in on the left for his fourth try in two games.
Hallam Amos was held up on the line after some great defence by the Italians, but Belcher got his second and Dragons' third with another driving maul almost identical to the first to regain the lead.
The second half was much tighter, with Rosser coming close to breaking the deadlock, but the referee deemed the pass out to the winger as forward and the score was scratched off.
It took almost 20 minutes for the first actual points of the half, with a calmly slotted penalty from Marty Banks to level the score.
Benetton then took the lead as Banks nailed another penalty before Kirchner failed to slot one of his own to level the score just minutes later.
The Italians could have extended their lead further and came within inches on two occasions in the last four minutes.
Epalahame Faiva was first denied by the TMO, which revealed he was short of the line after a driving effort from close range.
Then again the Kiwi thought he had scored in the final minute, but the referee judged his try to have been knocked on in transition on the floor and the score remained at 15-18.
With the victory Benetton extend their lead over Dragons in Conference B to 11 points and continue the hunt for a top four finish.
Tries:Rosser, Belcher 2
Pens: Banks 2
Dragons: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Rio Dyer, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Zane Kirchner, 9 Dan Babos, 8 Lewis Evans, 7 Aaron Wainwright, 6 Harri Keddie (captain), 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Ellis Shipp, 17 Gerard Ellis, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Henri Williams, 20 Lennon Greggains, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Arwel Robson, 23 Connor Edwards.
Benetton: 15 Ian McKinley, 14 Luca Sperandio, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Marco Barbini, 6 Alberto Sgarbi (captain), 5 Irné Hebst, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Tomas Baravalle, 1 Matteo Zanusso.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Cherif Traore, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Francesco Minto, 21 Giorgio Bronzini, 22 Marco Zanon, 23 Andrea Bronzini.
Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Ian Davies (Wales), Simon Rees (Wales)
TMO: Neil Hennessy (Wales)