Benetton Rugby 27 - 25 Cardiff Blues
HT 10-16
Sat 08 September 19:35 Stadio Comunale di Monigo Att: 2,400 Ref: Sean Gallagher Guinness PRO14

Match Report

Sat 8 Sep 2018 21:39 Match Report

Cardiff Blues slipped to a second last gasp defeat as an 80th minute Tommaso Allan conversion sealed the victory for Benetton Rugby at Stadio Monigo.

Following last week's agonising defeat at the death to Leinster, the Blues were determined to bounce back but they came against a power packed Italian outfit, who had put the Dragons to the sword.

Neither side got to grasps with the encounter and the lead changed hands on several occasions with Benetton scoring two tries to the Blues' one.

The hosts led 20-16 in the second-half but Anscombe slotted three quick-fire penalties to put Cardiff Blues into the lead.

However, a series of penalties in the final moments of the game saw the visitors reduced to 13 men. The pressure eventually told as Monty Ioane crossed for an 80th minute try, with Allan making no mistakes from the touchline conversion.

The Blues started well and dominated the opening spells of territory and possession, utilising an intelligent kicking game to get behind the Benetton defence.

It almost paid off instantly as Jarrod Evans dinked a perfectly-weighted chip over the Italians, which was collected by Harries but the wing, who bagged two tries last weekend didn't quite have enough time to slip the ball to Matthew Morgan.

The visitors continued to control affairs and they were rewarded with an early penalty but Evans' effort drifted agonisingly to the right of the uprights.

Some fine work from Nick Williams earned another penalty soon after and the ball was kicked to the corner but after the driving lineout creaked forward the Blues were unable to retrieve the ball as they ground to a halt.

As the 10 minute mark approached, Benetton almost stuck with a stunning try as a chip of their own unlocked the Cardiff Blues defence.

Jayden Hayward collected the ball and despite being caught by Ellis Jenkins and and Evans managed to offload off the floor to maintain momentum.

Possession was worked through the hands with a succession of offloads allowing them to surge forward and put Monty Ioane away but Jason Harries did remarkably well to scramble across and bundle his opposite number into touch.

The Treviso-based outfit were soon rewarded for their enterprise and Tommaso Allen required no second invitation as he booted his side into the lead.

The frenetic nature of the encounter continued as a Treviso counterattack saw Hayden kick through with Evans under immense pressure.

But the fly-half coolly slung a long pass to Morgan, behind his own try line to avert the danger. It opened up for the diminutive full-back and he faced out of his 22 before releasing Willis Halaholo.

The Super Rugby winner drew the defence superbly but his pass sailed passed Lane, who would have been clear.

Cardiff Blues were undeterred by the missed opportunity and on 17 minutes Nick Williams powered over. However after referee Sean Gallagher went to the TMO and asked "try, yes or no?" the effort was ruled out after no conclusive footage could be found.

Evans drew the Blues level with a tricky penalty on 20 minutes and when Allen had the opportunity to restore the hosts' advantage he fired wide.

But the Italians soon laid siege to the Cardiff Blues try line with three penalties kicked to the corner.

And at the third time of asking, and with advantage, they dinked the ball over the Blues rush defence and utilising every inch of a big in-goal area, Allen managed to touch down in the nick of time.

He then converted the effort to give the home side a 10-3 lead after 30 minutes but from the restart they handed the Blues a golden opportunity.

After failing to secure the restart sufficiently the ball went loose and good chasing from Halaholo and Kristian Dacey forced Luca Morisi over his own try-line.

And following three dominant scrums with Dmitri Arhip proving his weight in gold, Gallagher was given no choice but to award a penalty try to level the scores.

The Irish official was soon called into action again as Robert Barbieri led with the forearm into the throat of Lloyd Williams, leaving the scrum-half flat on his back.

Television replays clearly showed the offence but Gallagher deemed a yellow card sufficient as the Italian number eight was let off the hook.

Williams was able to continue and two minutes later Evans nudged the Blues in front before adding another on the stroke of half-time to make it 16-10.

The Cardiff Blues scrum continued to have the upper hand in the second-half and forced another penalty on 44 minutes, which Evans was unable to convert.

Benetton hit back on 50 minutes. Ratuva Tavuyara laid the platform with a powerful counterattack after he escaped the grasps of Rey Lee-Lo.

Owen Lane made a try-saving tackle but the Italians maintained possession and when the ball was worked left to Abraham Steyn they ran out of numbers.

Allen added the extras to put his side back in front and he kept the scoreboard ticking for the hosts with a second penalty.

Gareth Anscombe, who had replaced Jarrod Evans only minutes earlier, responded from out wide as the hour park approached but the Blues still had plenty of work to do against the fired up hosts.

Allen almost instantly had the opportunity to hit back but thankfully sliced his effort wide.

Anscombe continued to grow in influence and a stunning kick-pass over the head of Ioane released Lane at full pelt. He almost beat Hayward but the full-back clung on.

The Blues went through the phases and a fine break from Anscombe unlocked the Italians once more. He offloaded to Tomos Williams, who put Kristian Dacey away but the try was disallowed for a forward pass.

A fine counter attack from Anscombe manufactured another scoring opportunity but he could not find any support and was forced to kick ahead. Treviso collected and escaped unscathed despite seemingly being held up in the tackle.

Wales' Capital Region continued to battle and a howler of a kick from Tavuyara, which went into touch almost behind him gave them the perfect opportunity.

They powered towards the line and were held short however they were given a penalty at the next phase, which Anscombe duly slotted.

The Wales international, making his first appearance of the season, kept the scoreboard ticking, giving his side a five-point advantage.

However, Cardiff Blues were under pressure in the final moments, and penalties conceded at line-outs and scrums saw both Olly Robinson and Rhys Gill sent to the sin bin.

Benetton took full advantage of the inevitable overlap, as Monty Ioane crossed in the corner and Allan converted from the touchline with the final kick of the game.