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Only a late Mat Berquist penalty decided the Italian derby as Benetton Treviso squeaked over the line against Zebre by 20-15 in Marius Goosen’s first game in charge at Stadio Monigo.
Berquist did not have one of his best days in front of the posts – missing four penalties in total – but came up trumps when it mattered by kicking ten crucial points to hand Goosen, who replaced Franco Smith earlier this month, the perfect start.
Marco Bortolami’s early try saw the visitors claim an early lead but Treviso hit back before the break through scores from Cornelius van Zyl and Manoa Vosawai.
Dries van Schalkwyk responded for Zebre early in the second half before Berquist took charge, opposing kicker Luciano Orquera only managing to rack up five points.
Zebre may be anchored to the bottom of the RaboDirect PRO12 table but they saw off Cardiff Blues earlier this season for their first ever win in the tournament.
But Benetton Treviso are no pushovers at the Stadio Monigo, their three RaboDirect PRO12 wins this season having come at home.
And a full-blooded derby came to life in predictably rapid fashion with both sides trading blows and two missed penalties through fly-halves Berquist and Orquera.
With 12 minutes on the clock it was the visitors who struck first, a fine breakaway from Gonzalo Garcia finished off by Italy legend Bortolami for the score.
Orquera could not convert but he retuned his kicking radar just six minutes later to boot a penalty through from 40 metres and leave the home crowd stunned.
But the Treviso faithful did not have to wait long for some joy of their own as almost straight from kick-off, van Zyl charged down a kick to run clean through and dot down.
Berquist’s conversion chopped Zebre’s lead down to one point but for much of the first half there on in, both teams were having difficulty converting pressure into points.
However Orquera thought he had crashed over to restore the advantage for the away side – only for Dion Berryman to have knocked on in the build-up.
The breakthrough finally arrived just before the interval and it was Vosawai who grabbed the initiative for Treviso after the lock snuck over the whitewash.
Not to be broken, Zebre emerged for the second half with renewed vigour and drew first blood as van Schalkwyk bundled through to complete a well-worked counter attack.
After Luciano Leibson was caught offside Berquist was handed the chance to edge Treviso back ahead but the New Zealander missed his second penalty of the afternoon.
But on the hour-mark Berquist made amends from the tee before failing to slot through another one to strengthen the home side’s grip on the game.
The game was finally poised with ten minutes to go and Berquist came to the fore when it mattered to kick through a late penalty, while Zebre could not push for a last score following Quintin Geldenhuys’ and Filippo Ferrarini’s late sin bins.