Benetton will take on Zebre for the second Italian derby in six days after Kieran Crowley’s men ground out a tense 10-8 win in Parma last weekend.
What’s at stake?
Benetton will come into the clash with confidence and recent bragging rights after winning five of the last six fixtures between the teams.
The home side will also be looking for a spot in the Guinness PRO14 Final Series for the first time after a recent string of results has put them within touching distance of the Conference B knock-out spots.
Michael Bradley’s Zebre will arrive in Treviso sitting bottom of Conference A after a run of four games since their last win in the Guinness Pro14.
Team news (Benetton)
Ian McKinley makes way for Tommaso Allan at fly-half while Angelo Esposito starts on the wing ahead of Monty Ioane – the only changes to the backline that faced Zebre in the previous round.
Marco Riccioni is the only survivor in the front row as Derrick Appiah and Luca Bigi come in with Alessandro Zanni and Federico Ruzza keeping their places in the second row and Michele Lamaro coming in to the front row in place of Sebastian Negri.
Team news (Zebre)
Michael Bradley has made three changes to his side after the 10-8 defeat in Parma.
Kiwi scrum-half Joshua Renton will make his first start in the competition alongside Carlo Canna.
In the forwards, hooker Luhandre Luus will start instead of Oliviero Fabiani, who was injured in Parma during the first half of the match against Benetton, and Fijian flanker Apisai Tauyavuca will start at No.7.
Key battle: Tommaso Allan v Carlo Canna
Tommaso Allan and Carlo Canna will be no strangers to each other’s style of rugby as the two have had to share the Number 10 jersey for Italy over the last few years.
This is the derby however and both fly-halves will be keen to assert their dominance over one another as they go head-to-head.
Preferred to McKinley for the task, Allan has notched 51 points in the Guinness PRO14 this season and will be looking to make a statement of intent for both his club jersey and the national starting team.
As you would expect, Canna comes into the game as Zebre’s highest points scorer this season and will be seeking revenge after last week’s slim defeat.
Key stat: Zebre have lost their last four Guinness PRO14 matches since beating Edinburgh in Parma at the end of October.
Did you know: Zebre have not won away from home in the Championship since their visit to Treviso in round 21 last year.
Zebre: 15. Edoardo Padovani, 14. Paula Balekana, 13. Giulio Bisegni, 12. Tommaso Castello (c), 11. James Elliott, 10. Carlo Canna, 9. Joshua Renton, 8. Renato Giammarioli, 7. Apisai Tauyavuca, 6. Maxime Mbandà, 5. George Biagi, 4. David Sisi, 3. Dario Chistolini, 2. Luhandre Luus, 1. Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16. Massimo Ceciliani, 17. Daniele Rimpelli, 18. Eduardo Bello, 19. Samuele Ortis, 20. Jimmy Tuivaiti, 21. Guglielmo Palazzani, 22. Francois Brummer, 23. James Brown
Benetton: 15. Jayden Hayward, 14. Ratuva Tavuyara, 13. Ignacio Brex, 12. Luca Morisi, 11. Angelo Esposito, 10. Ian McKinley, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Marco Barbini (C), 7. Abraham Steyn, 6. Michele Lamaro, 5. Federico Ruzza, 4. Alessandro Zanni, 3. Marco Riccioni, 2. Luca Bigi, 1. Derrick Appiah
Replacements: 16. Tomas Baravalle, 17. Cherif Traore, 18. Tiziano Pasquali, 19. Irné Herbst, 20. Giovanni Pettinelli, 21. Tito Tebaldi, 22. Ian McKinley, 23. Tommaso Benvenuti
TV: Stadio Monigo, Treviso, 3pm – live on Free Sports
Referee: Lloyd Linton
Assistant Referees: Sam Grove-White, Matteo Liperini
TMO: Steffano Penne
Tries from Luca Bigi and Federico Ruzza helped Benetton Rugby to a powerful 28-10 win over Zebre Rugby in Guinness PRO14.
Kieran Crowley’s men secured the bragging rights in the Italian derby for the second straight week after victory in front of a delighted home crowd at Stadio Monigo.
Michele Lamaro added a third try late on for the hosts before Carlo Canna got a consolation for the visitors.
It leaves the men in green in a strong position as part of the chasing pack behind Leinster in Conference B while Zebre stay bottom of Conference A.
Tommaso Allan delighted the home fans early on with two penalties in the first ten minutes but Canna, who has shared time in the No. 10 shirt with Allan for Italy in recent years, pulled his side back into it with a penalty of his own.
Benetton continued to dominate on home turf as they had the best of the territory, which was eventually shown on the scoreboard after Bigi’s 26th minute try.
The hosts had gone to the rolling maul deep in Zebre’s half a few times but the hooker’s score was the first time it resulted in points, as he peeled off the back of the pack to touch down.
It got worse for the visitors just before the break as George Biagi was sent to the sinbin before Canna’s missed penalty meant it was 11-3 at the break.
Just after half-time the hosts extended their advantage through second row Ruzza.
The ball was spun wide and the forward exchanged passes with winger Iliesa Ratuva before escaping his defending to rumble over in the corner – Allan adding the extras to make it 18-3.
Zebre grew into the game when Biagi returned to the field, causing problems for their rivals at the set piece.
Not long after coming on replacement back-rower Giovanni Pettinelli was given a yellow card for lifting the legs too high in a tackle and just two minutes later Iliesa Tavuyara was also sinbinned for foul play, but Zebre struggled to make their two-man advantage pay.
Despite their dominance it was Benetton who added more points to the scoreboard through an Allan penalty with ten minutes to go.
In the final few minutes Lamaro touched down after a powerful break in midfield before Canna powered over right at the end for a consolation try for the visitors, who finally grabbed a try for their consistent second half pressure.