Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

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Preview: Benetton Rugby v Dragons

Charlie Bennett 6 Apr 2018

Benetton Rugby are seeking to extend their excellent home record against Welsh sides when they host the Dragons on Saturday.

The Italian side are battling for a place in the Guinness PRO14 Finals Series and sit just a point behind Ulster – making this a crucial game in their campaign.

What’s at stake?

In the race for the Conference B Champions Cup play-off place, Benetton trail Ulster by one point and will be desperate for victory against the Welsh province with three rounds to go.

Dragons are bidding to end a run of four successive defeats and go in search of just their third Guinness PRO14 win of the season.

The Men of Gwent’s only win in seven trips to Treviso came in March 2015.

Team news (Benetton)

The return of Italy fly-half Tommaso Allan is one of four changes made by head coach Kieran Crowley from Benetton’s narrow home defeat to Southern Kings last month.

Following his international commitments, Allan is in for Marty Banks at No10 to make his first appearance of 2018.

There’s a shift in the middle too, as Tommaso Benvenuti replaces Tommaso Iannone at centre.

Simone Ferrari starts ahead of Matteo Zanusso in the front row and Marco Barbini comes into the pack instead of Irne Herbst.

Team news (Dragons)

Like their hosts, Dragons have made four changes to the side that lost 29-17 to Toyota Cheetahs in their last PRO14 contest.

Jared Rosser comes into the back three to replace Hallam Amos, away with Wales at the Commonwealth Games.

Owain Leonard starts at scrum-half, Gerard Ellis is added to the front row and experienced lock Rynard Landman gets the nod. Sarel Pretorius, Sam Hobbs and Joe Davies drop out.

Talking points

Dragons skills coach Barry Maddocks said: “They are a good side and the boys are looking forward to the challenge. Inevitably they will be looking forward to us coming over and I think that we are the underdogs, but the boys have been very positive with their attitude and have trained exceptionally well, whilst the staff are super motivated for the remaining three games.

“We have had some tough days away, there’s no doubt about that, but we need to finish as strong as we can with the group that we have.”

Key battle – Tommaso Allan v Arwel Robson

The return of Italy No10 Tommaso Allan is a major shot in the arm for Benetton this weekend. Allan kicked 26 points and crossed three times as he started all five Six Nations matches for the Azzurri.

That’s the same number of matches as he has played in for Benetton all season, with a knee injury suffered against Edinburgh in September having disrupted Allan’s campaign.

Opposite number Arwel Robson makes only his fourth PRO14 start of the season and the highly-rated youngster will be determined to seize his chance for head coach Bernard Jackman’s side.

Key stat: Victory for Benetton would see the Italians equal their most-ever wins in a Championship season.

Did you know? Benetton are unbeaten at home against Welsh provinces in PRO14 since November 2016, when they lost to Cardiff Blues.

Benetton: Jayden Hayward, Luca Sperandio, Tommaso Benvenuti, Alberto Sgarbi (c), Monty Ioane, Tommaso Allan, Tito Tebaldi; Federico Zani, Tomas Baravalle, Simone Ferrari, Federico Ruzza, Marco Lazzaroni, Marco Barbini, Abraham Steyn, Robert Barbieri

Replacements: Hame Faiva, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, Alessandro Zanni, Sebastian Negri, Nasi Manu, Tommaso Iannone, Marty Banks

Dragons: Zane Kirchner, Ashton Hewitt, Sam Beard, Connor Edwards, Jared Rosser, Arwel Robson, Owain Leonard; Gerard Ellis, Elliot Dee, Lloyd Fairbrother, Cory Hill (c), Rynard Landman, Harrison Keddie, Aaron Wainwright, Lewis Evans

Replacements: Liam Belcher, Luke Garrett, Dan Suter, Joe Davies, Taine Basham, Charlie Davies, Adam Warren, Rio Dyer

Referee: Andrew Brace (RFU)

AR1: Joy Neville (IRFU) AR2: Robert O’Sullivan (IRFU)

TMO: Olly Hodges (IRFU)

TV: Live on Eurosport

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Prices start at just €35 at www.ticketmaster.ie with tickets available to suit every experience.
To book hospitality visit: 
https://www.pro14rugby.org/hospitality
For Travel packages visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/travel-packages
For Fanzone & Dublin 7s visit: http://www.dublin7sfestival.ie

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Tebaldi strikes late to help Benetton sink Dragons

Andrew Lawton 7 Apr 2018

Tito Tebaldi struck a penalty with the last kick of the game as Benetton bounced back after Dragons had fought their way back into the game.

In a classic game of two halves, Benetton sailed into a 26-6 lead at the break thanks to tries from Federico Ruzza, Monty Ioane, Tommaso Allan and Tebaldi.

But tries from Rynard Landman, Jared Rosser and Connor Edwards after the break pushed Dragons into a one-point lead, until Tebaldi held his nerve to slot home the penalty.

Benetton were undefeated at home to Welsh sides in the Guinness PRO14 since losing to Cardiff Blues in November 2016 and they narrowly extended that record.

The Italians started perfectly, with a try after just two minutes, second row Ruzza coasting over two phases after a five-metre lineout.

Dragons reduced the deficit with two penalties from Arwel Robson before Ioane found room out wide to nip in for Benetton’s second score.

The Australian-born winger still had plenty to do when he picked up the ball on the left flank, but an excellent hand off sent Owain Leonard to the floor and he rounded the defence to score.

A few minutes later Benetton had a third, Allan getting in the act after Luca Sperandio had broken down the right wing and converting his own score to move the Italian side into a commanding 19-6 lead.

On the stroke of half-time the Benetton pack were deemed to have been held up after consultation from the TMO and from the resulting scrum, Tebaldi sped down the blindside and in for the bonus-point score.

Substitute Hame Faiva thought he had added a fifth try five minutes into the second half as a Benetton driving maul crashed over, but it was ruled out by the TMO and Dragons hit back with Landman crashing over for a score of their own.

With a spring in their step and looking like a far better side than the one that had come out for the first half, Dragons then grabbed a second try on 62 minutes.

The ball was played through the hands to the left wing and Rosser was there to accelerate away and give Robson a makeable conversion to move them within a converted try of the lead.

Edwards dived over soon afterwards, latching onto Robson’s pass following Landman’s excellent offload from on the floor.

Benetton looked to have missed their chance, twice seeing promising attacks end in handling errors, but right at the death, the scrum-half sent over the penalty and broke Dragons’ hearts.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Prices start at just €35 at www.ticketmaster.ie with tickets available to suit every experience.
To book hospitality visit: 
https://www.pro14rugby.org/hospitality
For Travel packages visit: https://www.pro14rugby.org/travel-packages
For Fanzone & Dublin 7s visit: http://www.dublin7sfestival.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138