Conference B’s two bottom sides will face off this weekend in an intriguing match-up.
Benetton Rugby are nine points ahead of Southern Kings but will not want to allow the South Africans to narrow the gap between them at the Stadio Comunale Di Monigo on Saturday evening.
What’s at stake?
Kings are yet to win a point in five PRO14 matches and will be desperate to gain some on Saturday and get their season up and running.
The South Africans will be desperate to take points from this game and will see Benetton as an ideal opponent, as the Italian side have only managed two wins from five.
However, the Italians will be keen to back on track following last weekend’s defeat to Glasgow Warriors.
Team news (Benetton):
Head coach Kieran Crowley has made just one change to the back line that faced Glasgow last weekend, with Ignacio Brex coming in for Tommaso Benvenuti at outside centre.
Team news (Southern Kings):
Head coach Deon Davids has opted to make minimal changes to the side that fought courageously against Dragons last weekend, keeping his forward line intact.
At the back, Yaw Penxe is rested while Sibusiso Sithole is shifted from left to right wing to replace him and Alshaun Bock comes in on the left.
Southern Kings may sense an opportunity to claim their first points of the season, with Benetton failing to win two of their last five home games.
This is the Italian side’s first trip to South Africa, in a busy 2017 that has seen them visit Singapore, Australia, Argentina, Wales and Ireland in 2017 so far.
Benetton are a force to be reckoned with in front of their own supporters and have lost just two of their last five, but both of those were to Irish sides.
Key Battle: Angelo Esposito v Sibusso Sitole
With both teams suspect in defence, it may be up to their respective wingers to win the game by outscoring the opposition.
Esposito is Benetton’s top tscorer with two, while Sithole, who is normally utilised at left wing, has a chance to impress on the right while Penxe is rested.
Key Stat: Last weekend Southern King’s Bobby de Wee managed two lineout steals, more than any other player managed.
Did you know?
This will be the first time the two sides have played against each other ever after Southern Kings were inducted into the league this season.
Benetton: J Hayward, A Esposito, Ignacio Brex, A Sgarbi, L Sperandio, M Banks, T Tebaldi / F Zani, L Bigi, S Ferrari, D Budd, M Lazzaroni, S Negri, A Steyn, M Barbini
Replacements: T Baravalle, C Traore, T Pasquali, M Fuser, R Barbieri, E Gori, T Benvenuti, I McKinley
Southern Kings: M Banda, S Sithole, J Nel, L Vulindlu, A Bock, P de Wet, G Masimla, S Ferreira, M Willemse, M Dreyer, S Greeff, B de Wee, A Ntsila, J van Vuuren, D van Schalkwyk
Replacements: T Balekile, R de Klerk, E Swanepoel, L Mtyanda, K Majola, R van Rooyen, O Zono, B Klaasen
TV: Eurosport Italia/SuperSport1, (KO 8pm local time)
Match officials – Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU), AR1: Rhys Thomas (WRU), AR2: Jonathan Hardy (WRU) TMO: Sean Brickwell (WRU)
Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster
Benetton Rugby notched up their third win in four Guinness PRO14 matches to climb to fifth in Conference B after a comfortable 30-3 victory over the Southern Kings.
Angelo Esposito scored the only try of an attritional first half in Treviso, with Marty Banks kicking three penalties to Pieter-Steyn de Wet’s one to see the hosts into a 14-3 advantage – Kings lock Bobby de Wee spending ten minutes in the sin-bin.
And that was a lead they never looked like relinquishing, as Marco Barbini went over just six minutes into the second half, before Esposito grabbed his second of the night and Cherif Traore grabbed a bonus-point score with the final play of the game.
It took ten minutes for Banks to land his first penalty from just left of the posts, after de Wee was penalised for a high tackle.
The Kiwi No.10 then made it 9-0 with two more place kicks on 22 and 25 minutes, with Benetton turning the screws and making their pressure pay with points.
De Wee’s late hit on Banks then proved very costly as he was yellow carded by referee Sean Gallagher, and the Lions kicked into the corner.
A well-worked rolling-maul led to another penalty deep in Kings territory and, after earning penalty advantage yet again from the scrum, Banks’ perfectly-weighted cross-field kick found Esposito in acres of space on the right flank to score – with the visitors committing men on the other side of the pitch.
Banks’ conversion attempt from out wide hit the post however, and the Kings did get themselves on the scoresheet before the break with Dean Budd offside as he charged down de Wet’s drop-goal attempt.
The visitors’ No.10 knocked over the routine penalty to make it 14-3, but they found themselves on the back foot again straight away in the second half as Barbini gave Benetton a commanding advantage.
The Kings’ discipline deep in their own territory let them down again as they conceded another penalty and the No.8 picked the ball off the back of the scrum and sold Alshaun Bock a dummy to dot down.
Despite the visitors enjoying their best spell of the match around the hour mark as they knocked on the Italians’ door, building the phases with patient play on the hosts’ five-metre line, determined defence kept them at bay and a late salvo saw Benetton snatch a bonus point.
Esposito got around the outside of Bock brilliantly and held off two tackles to get the ball down in the right corner, and Traore sniped over as the clock ticked into the red for the hosts fourth to send the Italian fans into raptures.
Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie
06 Oct 2017
06 Oct 2017