Kings fall short against Benetton
Kings fall short against BenettonSHARE
Both teams scored five tries apiece, with Marty Banks' penalty proving to be the difference between the two sides.
A fast start and tries from Tomas Baravalle and Marco Barbini gave the Italians the lead, but the Kings responded swiftly through Luzuko Vulindlu and Godlen Masimla.
Keen to bounce back from narrow defeats to Connacht and Cardiff Blues, Benetton retook the lead through Banks, with Ruaan Lerm pulling a try back for the Kings before the break.
Benetton added tries from Tommaso Iannone and Abraham Steyn, while the Kings hit back through a penalty try and a late Berton Klaasen score.
Benetton started with a bang, Baravalle going over in the corner after just three minutes for the Italian side, following a strong maul from the forwards.
Just three minutes later they had extended their lead, with Barbini finishing off a period of pressure for the visitors as they surged into a 12-0 lead.
After a slow start, the Kings seemed to spring into life as Michael Makase broke out from inside his own half and found Alshaun Bock, who couldn’t quite gather the ball and ran into touch.
But a steal at the ensuing line-out gave Kings the territory once more and after some patient build-up play, Klaasen threaded a kick through for Vulindlu to continue his fine try-scoring form.
After 18 minutes, the Kings were in front as Masimla sped through onto Klaasen's perfectly timed pop pass, following an excellent break from Masixole Banda.
But in a pulsating first half, the tries kept coming, with Benetton responding to going behind almost immediately, Banks finding space on the blind side and crossing in the corner for an easy finish.
The away side, looking to keep up the pressure on Ulster in Conference B, looked to assert themselves and secured the bonus point score when Iannone cut inside from the right flank after a period of sustained pressure on the Kings defence.
The South Africans made it seven first-half tries in the match when Lerm touched the ball down at the end of a strong driving maul to take the sides in at half-time just five points apart.
Benetton came out stronger for the second period and Steyn eventually broke through the Kings defence when he burrowed over for the Italians' fifth score.
Tempers flared as Kings fought for a foothold in the game, with scuffles breaking out between Bobby de Wee and Irne Herbst, but the Kings managed to keep themselves in the Benetton 22, eventually earning a penalty try, with Benetton lock Federico Ruzza heading to the sin bin.
The Kings couldn't capitalise on their numerical advantage, as Benetton extended their lead through a Banks penalty.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes, a few errors crept into Benetton's play and the hosts snuck over for their fifth try of the game.
Another good line-out and driving maul left Klaasen with a chance to finish, which he did superbly, dancing past the Benetton defence, Banda kicking to bring the Kings to within a point.
For Southern Kings:
Tries: Vulindlu, Masimla, Lerm, Penalty Try, Klaasen
Cons: Coleman 2, Banda 2
Tries: Baravalle, Lazzaroni, Banks, Iannone, Steyn
Cons: Banks 4
Yellow cards: Federico Ruzza (Benetton, 57 – cynical play at maul); Tango Balekile (Southern Kings, 75 – foul play, high tackle)
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Michael Makase, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tienie Burger, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Schalk Ferreira (captain).
Replacements: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Luvuyo Pupuma, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Lusanda Badiyana, 21 Rowan Gouws, 22 Martin du Toit, 23 Jacques Nel.
Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Luca Sperandio, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (captain), 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Marco Barbini, 5 Irné Herbst, 4 Federico Ruzza, 3 Matteo Zanusso, 2 Tomas Baravalle, 1 Federico Zani.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Nicola Quaglio, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Marco Lazzaroni, 20 Nasi Manu, 21 Ignacio Brex, 22 Michael Tagicakibau, 23 Andrea Bronzini.
Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Rodney Boneparte (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)