The first minutes of both fractions, in which the lions make a vacuum, are decisive
At the Monigo di Treviso, Benetton Rugby and Zebre face each other in the recovery of the 9th day of the United Rugby Championship, with the two teams that have nothing more to ask from the standings but – in the presence of Kieran Crowley, Italian coach – with many players at hunting for a great performance from an Italian national point of view.
At the first attacking ball – after less than a minute -, the hosts mark the first goal of the afternoon. Canna kicks in a lineout, just beyond the half of the field: possession won by the lions in touch, and after a first charge nearby, in the second phase a beautiful inside bank of Brex for Rhyno Smith, who finds the winning hole and flies, with a nice footwork to beat the ducal second defensive line, beyond the goal line without too many worries. The same South African trocar converts, for the 7-0, at 3 ‘.
The lions monopolize possession and territory at the start, and at 5 ′ they would mark the second goal, with Federico Ruzza absolute protagonist. The second line, formerly of the game, first invents an amazing 50:22 football, then on the development of the multiphase that arises after the possession won in touch, Ruzza collects and goes over under the posts, eluding Tuivaiti. However, he goes to the TMO, with the goal canceled for a forward from the Padova forward on the grounding.
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The score remains unchanged, with the Zebras conceding a couple of kicks consecutively – on the Leonine possession, which finds great progress with the forwards especially with Gallo and Lazzaroni -, one of which, at 14 ‘, leads Smith to try the penalty, a little over 10 of attack, but does not hit the poles.
The second half of the hosts, almost inevitably, arrives at 17 ‘. Kick against the Zebras on the meeting point and penalty on 5 meters. Possession won by the lions, maul that is organized and then a beautiful combination of the backs in the first phase, with the beautiful hands of Albornoz that activate the running line in the middle of Padovani’s field, with the Cardiff hero marking under the goalposts. Smith converts for 14-0 at 18 ‘.
It seems like a kind of (almost) knockout blow, but the response of the Zebras is immediate. Made the most of a foul by the green-and-whites: penal’touche on 5 meters, maul who organizes himself and gains a couple of meters, then enlarged ball for Canna who runs diagonally and rewards Trulla’s running line that goes to mark the 14- 5, before the conversion for the 14-7 to 20 ‘.
In the second half of the fraction, rhythm and accuracy drop from both sides of the pitch, with Benetton losing focus on discipline and allowing the Zebras to appear more consistently in the points area. At 30 ‘, Canna goes one step away from the goal, held high, after a multiphase well carried by the ducals, who corrode centimeter by centimeter, with the attack that is however thwarted beyond the goal line by the Leonine defensive work. Then, the same Canna shortens from the pitch to 35 ‘, for the 14-10 with which you go to the long break (with the same Canna who tries an unrealistic drop in the final), also because the Zebras save themselves on the risk of Gesi. A fantastic Brex kick bounces almost on the out one meter from the goal line: the former Under 20 winger forces a risky rescue. The ball goes out, but Gesi is out of action in defense, with Padovani beating the touch fast, but on the Leonine charge a held forced by Trulla thwarts the danger brought by the guests.
The start of the recovery is a copy-paste of the first fraction: tactical ping pong, Albornoz’s kick in depth (it will be the main and winning solution of the lions in the second half) in the conflict zone between Canna and Laloifi. Rhyno Smith sniffs the opportunity and is quicker to jump into the oval. Smith punishes host misunderstanding: meta, sublimated also by transformation. 21-10 at 43 ‘.
The lions take advantage of the zebra-like indiscipline on the meeting point: first they go up the field, then on Fischetti’s offside, at 49 ‘they go for the poles (24-10, signed by Smith).
At 50 ‘, however, on a broken game situation, a voluntary forward from Bellini arrives (in an attempt to intercept the oval). The lions thus remain in 14 for 10 ‘, but the Zebras, first for a couple of gestural errors in the transmission of the oval and then for a great held forced by Gallo, not only fail to shorten, but also undergo the fourth goal.
Penal’touche leonina in the red zone, advantage after a couple of accelerations by Duvenage who attacks near the meeting point and then ball off (with a nice Brex pass) for Rhyno Smith who makes a hat-trick, and converts for 31-10 at 57 ‘.
Evening of multiple scoring also in the Zebre house, with Trulla scoring for the brace at game time: possession won by the Zebras on the 10 meters in lineout in attack, Canna fixes a pair of defenders on the closed side and activates Trulla who marks the flag. Canna converts for 31-17
In the final, after the bad knee injury for Cronje, out on a stretcher to the applause of Monigo, the lions round up with Smith from the pitch at 73 ‘, and with Bellini’s goal in the final – to convert a multiphase on 5 meters into gold of the ducals -, with the beautiful hands of a superb Ruzza still decisive. Thus ends 39-17, with the lions granting an encore after the victory in Parma last December 24th.
URC: starting line-ups and top scorers for Benetton-Zebre
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 (C), 6 Manuel Zuliani, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Thomas Gallo
Available: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Ivan Nemer, 18 Nahuel Tetaz, 19 Giovanni Pettinelli, 20 Toa Halafihi, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Leonardo Marin, 23 Filippo Drago.
destinations: Smith (1 ‘, 42’, 57 ‘), Padovani (17’), Bellini (79 ‘)
transformations: Smith (3 ′, 17 ′, 43 ′)
free kicks: Smith (49 ′, 73 ′)
Zebras: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Jacopo Trulla, 13 Erich Cronje, 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 (C ), 3 Ion Neculai, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Danilo Fischetti
Available: 16 Giampietro Ribaldi, 17 Paolo Buonfiglio, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Gabriele Venditti, 20 Ross Vintcent, 21 Nicolò Casilio, 22 Michelangelo Biondelli, 23 Franco Smith Jr.
destinations: Trulla (19 ′, 59 ′)
transformations: Canna (20 ′, 61 ′)
free kicks: Canna (35 ′)
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