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Edinburgh out to avoid record-setting loss in Italy

Guinness PRO12 Rugby Editor 14 Apr 2017
Hamish Watson

Benetton Treviso welcome Edinburgh Rugby to the Stadio Monigo on Saturday looking for a fourth win of the season that could see them climb off the foot of the Guinness PRO12 table.

Having finished bottom of the pile last season they will be hopeful of avoiding a second season at the bottom with Edinburgh travelling to Italy on a seven-game losing streak.

A win for the Italians could move them to within three points of their opponents, while Edinburgh will be looking to strengthen their hold on ninth place.

What’s at stake?

Treviso finished 12th in 2015/16 and will be vying to avoid that again, and with Zebre Rugby just three points above them, Kieran Crowley’s side will sense an opportunity to leapfrog their Italian counterparts.

However, coming into the game off the back of a 51-5 defeat at Scarlets last week will not have helped boost their confidence.

For the visitors, pride and dignity are the rewards on offer, and having not won a Guinness PRO12 match since the turn of the year, a return to winning ways would be prize enough for Duncan Hodge’s side.

A spirited comeback effort last week was not enough as the Scots lost 22-19 to Connacht Rugby, but their fans will be hoping it is a sign of better things to come.

Treviso team news

Benetton make six changes from their trip to Wales as Luke McLean comes in at full-back and Marco Fuser plays at loosehead prop.

While four players drop to the bench as Tommaso Benvenuti, Tito Tebaldi, Tiziano Pasquali and Marco Lazzaroni are all named as replacements.

In their place are Tommaso Iannone at outside centre, Edoardo Gori at scrum-half, Simone Ferrari at loosehead prop and Abraham Steyn at openside flanker.

Edinburgh team news

Acting head coach Duncan Hodge makes just one change to Edinburgh’s side with Jason Tovey returning to the side at fly-half having been sidelined with a groin injury.

Skipper Ross Ford starts at hooker, making up the front row with Murray McCallum and Simon Berghan, while Ben Toolis and Fraser McKenzie are named in the second row.

Hamish Watson, who picked up the man of the match award last week, starts on the flanks with Viliame Mata, and Viliami Fihaki is at No. 8 having received a late call up against Connacht.

Talking Points

Edinburgh acting head coach Hodge hopes the game can revitalise his side after a frustratin run in the Guinness PRO12.

“Our composure and error count let us down last week and we’ve continued to work hard in training to sharpen up on this front and make the appropriate improvements,” he said.

“We need to start the game well and gain control in the opening exchanges tomorrow night.

“Treviso have proven many times this season that they are a tough and well-drilled outfit. They’ll battle hard to get a foothold early in the game so we need to match them by getting off the mark faster than we did against Connacht.

“We see this game as a big chance to put right our wrongs of recent weeks.”

Key battle: Alberto Sgarbi v Phil Burleigh

Sgarbi, who has played at inside centre in the absence of top points scorer Tommaso Allan, must continue his high work rate from recent weeks.

His try set up a stunning victory against Ospreys last month and Burleigh will need to keep him contained if Edinburgh are to emerge victorious in Treviso.

The versatile back has featured in 11 of Edinburgh’s Guinness PRO12 games this season, scoring just one try – in last month’s defeat to Scarlets – so will be hoping to add to that tally against what is sure to be a dogged Treviso defence.

Key Stat

Benetton Treviso have won just once in the last eight rounds of the Guinness PRO12: 13-5 over Ospreys in Treviso in round 18.

Did you know?

Edinburgh Rugby have lost all seven Guinness PRO12 fixtures they have played in 2017. They have never lost eight in a row in the history of the Championship.

Treviso top points scorer: Tommaso Allan 66pts. Top try scorer: Dean Budd 4

Edinburgh top points scorer: Duncan Weir 97pts. Top try scorer: Magnus Bradbury 5

Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:

Played 13, Benetton Rugby won 4, Edinburgh won 9.

At Stadio Monigo, 8.05pm local time (7.05pm UK & Ireland) Live on Eurosport Italy

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU, 4th competition game)

Assistant Referees: Mark Patton (IRFU), Giuseppe Vivarini (FIR)

Citing Commissioner: Alberto Recaldini (FIR)

TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)

The Guinness PRO12 Final takes place on May 27 at Aviva Stadium, Dublin. 
Fans can guarantee their place by booking their tickets via www.ticketmaster.ie

Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final

Treviso move off bottom after powerful performance

Guinness PRO12 Rugby Editor 15 Apr 2017

Robert Barbieri and Angelo Esposito scored tries either side of half-time as Benetton Treviso leapfrogged Zebre in the Guinness PRO12 table thanks to a 21-6 victory over Edinburgh.

The Italians were dominant at the set-piece for the majority of the game and No.8 Barbieri scored his from the scrum to put the hosts in control at half-time.

Eagle-eyed kicking from Ian McKinley also helped Treviso’s cause and Gori made victory certain on the hour mark, while Edinburgh only had two Jason Tovey penalties to show for their efforts.

Glenn Bryce was in the thick of the action early on as the full-back showed a few promising touches, but Treviso stood strong and were particularly resolute in the scrum.

However, a Treviso knock-on deep in their own territory nearly spelled disaster for the hosts – only for Chris Dean to lose control of the ball after picking a good line off Phil Burleigh.

The deadlock was finally broken at the start of the second quarter thanks to Damien Hoyland, whose scything break led to a penalty that Tovey successfully converted.

As soon as that kick went over Treviso hit back off the tee through McKinley, and the fly-half put one through the posts again as the home side continued to assert themselves at scrumtime.

Indeed the momentum had well and truly swung the Italians’ way, forcing Hamish Watson to ground the ball over his own line just past the half-hour mark.

And a try was perhaps inevitable given their superiority at the set-piece – Barbieri picked up the ball from the base of the scrum before piling over the whitewash.

McKinley’s conversion made it 13-3 and the Treviso train showed no signs of slowing down after the break as the Irishman added another three-pointer upon the restart.

It could have been worse for Edinburgh after Treviso booted a penalty to the corner following a high tackle, but they eventually cleared their lines.

Burleigh nearly found the inspiration that the away side needed as he found a gap through Treviso’s stout defence, but the final offload was intercepted.

There was no doubt Edinburgh were gathering momentum however and they got their rewards for a spell of pressure through a second successful Tovey penalty.

But Esposito struck a hammer blow for Treviso after quick hands put him through into the corner, and though McKinley missed the conversion, they had a healthy 21-6 lead on the hour mark.

Try as they might, Edinburgh, who have now lost eight on the spin in the PRO12, could not find a way through.

Luca Sperandio nearly added another try for Treviso at the death, but he failed to ground the ball over the line.

The Guinness PRO12 Final takes place on May 27 at Aviva Stadium, Dublin. 
Fans can guarantee their place by booking their tickets via www.ticketmaster.ie

Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final