Benetton Rugby 26 - 26 Cardiff Blues
Sat 30 November 17:00 Stadio Monigo Att: 3,351 Ref: Leo Colgan Pro12

Benetton Treviso 26 Cardiff Blues 26

Sat 30 Nov 2013 16:55 Benetton Treviso 26 Cardiff Blues 26
Blues were once again without their international stars and a number of injured players while Treviso, in stark comparison, named a powerful 16 internationals in their match day squad.

Young Academy winger Owen Jenkins was given his first ever start for Blues while Ellis Jenkins, Gareth Davies, Filo Paulo, Dan Fish and Rhys Williams were all called up for the overseas trip.

But a superb first half display from Blues saw them take a deserved 20-6 lead as tries from Chris Czekaj and Robin Copeland rattled the Italian hosts.

However, a try from Alessandro Zanni fired the Treviso comeback before Edoardo Gori scored for the lead as the experience in the Italian ranks started to show.

A tense final quarter saw the teams locked before Davies held his nerve with a 76th minute kick to claim two points for Blues.

Home centre Christian Loamanu produced a bustling run in midfield and, with James Down left on the turf after a heavy tackle, a penalty from Mathew Berquist gave Treviso the lead after three minutes.

Owen Jenkins produced a good step to break into home territory while Dan Fish kicked deep to force Treviso back before the full back took a quick lineout and showed his pace to run around the home defence.

Ludovico Nitoglia showed his devastating pace from deep to break the line and then feed Michele Campagnaro with an audacious flicked pass out the back.

A superb team score saw Rhys Williams feed Copeland who barged in the home 22 after a high up and under from Davies caused panic. With the Treviso defence all at sea, the ball was shipped wide for Czekaj to exploit the overlap and score. Davies added the extras for a 7-3 lead.

A penalty at the scrum gave Berquist another shot at goal and he made no mistake to cut the lead to a point. But crossing from the restart allowed Davies to slot his first penalty of the night.

A long kick by Nitoglia flew out on the full to hand territory back to Blues on halfway before strong counter-rucking on the floor forced another home error. Davies again pointed the posts and made no mistake for a 13-6 lead.

Dafydd Hewitt picked off a floated pass in midfield as Blues again looked to force position, while a knock on meant Fish had to sprint back and react quickly to kick clear under pressure.

The Italian forwards went to work to punch holes in the Blues defence and period of sustained pressure, and several tap penalties, paid off as the visitors strayed offside and the always reliable Berquist drilled over a simple kick.

The physicality of the game was showing on both teams as players littered the turf after another period of bone-crunching tackles came in from both sides, with Filo Paulo and Down leading from the front for Blues.

Slick hands from Fish and Jenkins down the right cut Treviso open while Cook and Smith carried strongly into contact before the Italians regrouped and forced the error just before the half hour mark.

Superb work from Lewis Jones saw him snag his opposite number Tobias Botes at the scrum and turnover ball in the home 22 and allow Blues to rumble up close again. More forward pressure and composure saw Treviso finally fold as Copeland crashed over from close range.

A loose box kick clearance handed a clearly Treviso ball back, but an immediate long stray lineout only heightened home disapproval from the terraces with minutes until the break.

Treviso saw a driving lineout splinter in horrible fashion and eventually had to touch back as the ball continued to be spilled under pressure.

A high tackle in midfield gave Treviso one last attacking platform at the end of the half, as tempers threatened to spill over after a series of thundering hits. But a huge tackle from Hewitt dislodged ball as Blues took a 20-9 lead to the break.

Treviso came out firing at the start of the second half with Manoa Vosawai tearing down the middle as the Italians noticeably upped the pace of the game as temperatures continued to tumble.

Next up a brilliant break from Edoardo Gori saw him leave men in his wake as he burst down the right flank, with only an equally impressive tackle from Fish pulling him down in full flow.

A huge home scrum saw referee Leo Colgan handed Treviso the first penalty of the second half. But Berquist saw his effort from long range sail wide left of the posts.

Treviso then struck from nowhere as back row Alessandro Zanni broke clear in the 22, as he rolled out of a tackle, and had the strength to make the line under pressure before Berquist added the extras to cut the lead to four points.

A scrum against the head then saw Blues horribly exposed and the home forwards struck before Gori bulldozed over for a 23-20 lead with 20 minutes left.

A yellow card to Michele Rizzo, for illegal work on the floor, gave Blues a shot at goal and Davies nudged his effort over to draw the sides level once more.

A collapsed scrum gave Berquist another penalty that he confidently drilled over before a charged down kick had Treviso hearts in the mouth as Czekaj was forced out of play.

A yellow card this time to Filo Paulo, for dragging down a driving lineout, meant Blues would finish the game with 14 men.

However, Blues refused to go away and a sustained period of pressure saw them show great control to keep the ball alive and force a penalty. And when another penalty came, as Jones was obstructed, Davies slotted the kick to tie the game with four minutes left.

The final three minutes was all played in Treviso territory as Blues looked to force one more chance. But Treviso held firm as the teams shared the points after an entertaining clash.


03m Berquist p 3-0  

07m Czekaj t Davies c 3-7

11m Berquist p 6-7

13m Davies p 6-10

17m Davies p 6-13

22m Berquist p 9-13

31m Copeland t Davies c 9-20

48m Zanni t Berquist c 16-20

58m Gori t Berquist c 23-20

61m Davies p 23-23

68m Berquist p 26-23

76m Davies p 26-26

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Owen Jenkins (Hamilton 76), 13 Richard Smith, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Chris Czekaj, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lewis Jones; 1 Sam Hobbs, 2 Rhys Williams (Breeze 48), 3 Taufa’ao Filise (Bourrust 63), 4 James Down (Watts-Jones 48), 5 Filo Paulo, 6 Macauley Cook, 7 Ellis Jenkins (Young 71), 8 Robin Copeland

Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 Luke Hamilton, 20 Rory Watts-Jones, 21 Thomas Young, 22 Tomos Williams, 23 Simon Humberstone