Throwback Thursday: Leinster 27-27 Benetton Rugby

Tom Dean
18 July 2019

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The 2019-20 Guinness PRO14 fixture list is set and there are some tantalising Round One games for fans to sink their teeth into.

First up for defending champions Leinster will be a tough trip to Treviso to take on a Benetton side who will be looking to build on their most successful season yet.

A third-place Conference B finish and a trip to the quarter-finals was a fantastic achievement for Kieran Crowley and his men, who very nearly had a Leinster scalp to their names too.

A year on from their historic win in Dublin, Benetton followed it up with another game for the ages against Leinster.

The 27-27 draw at the RDS Arena was perhaps one of the most enthralling games of the 2018-19 season, so here’s a look back at how the action panned out.

Benetton had suffered a 31-3 home defeat in October and arrived in Ireland with a point to prove but full of belief after narrowly winning there the previous season.

Leinster, however, were already assured of a home semi-final spot but the men from Treviso were fighting tooth and nail for one of the other remaining qualification spots in Conference B.

It was hooker Luca Bigi who broke the deadlock as he replicated his score against the Irish outfit the previous year, driving over after a maul off the lineout.

The try appeared to open up the game as Leinster hit back instantly thanks to an assured penalty from Noel Reid, before Tommaso Allan restored the seven-point lead with one of his own.

Benetton twice went knocking for a try to round the half off but were thwarted by the Leinster defence and in the end settled for a penalty in front of the post to take a seven-point lead into the break at 13-6.

Leinster looked much more like themselves after the restart and James Lowe finished off after some powerful breaks from Max Deegan and Barry Daly for Ciaran Frawley to level up the scores from the tee.

Unwilling to lie down, the visitors responded with an attack off a midfield scrum and ground their way through 26 phases of play before Federico Ruzza eventually burst through the blue wall to score.

Game on.

Replacement hooker Bryan Byrne put in the final hard yards to ensure he burst over the line following a driving maul before Frawley capped off his night with what looked to be the winning try in sublime fashion.

A stunning no-look pass by Conor O’Brien sent the fly-half through a gaping hole and the conversion put Leinster back on track with a seven-point lead and less than ten minutes to play.

But the big finish was too tempting for Benetton to refuse and when the play came to Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara, and with the clock already in the red, there was only one thing he could do to save his team from defeat.

The big Fijian winger ducked and weaved through the tackles to break free and surge towards the line for the crucial score, and Allan held his nerve to apply the all-important extra two points.

The draw kept Benetton on course for third as they eventually held off Scarlets and Edinburgh to finish the season on an all-time high.

 

2019/20 FIXTURES INFORMATION

To view all fixtures from R1-21 visit https://www.pro14rugby.org/match-centre/fixtures/

To download all fixtures directly to your calendar visit https://www.pro14rugby.org/downloadable-fixture-list/

Read more at https://www.pro14rugby.org/2019/07/17/top-derby-games-in-the-guinness-pro14/#iOKXL4wIrPvOOIj2.99

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