Cardiff Rugby 30 - 13 Benetton Rugby
HT 16-13
Sat 18 February 17:15 Cardiff Arms Park Att: 7,008 United Rugby Championship

Cardiff 30 Benetton Rugby 13

Sat 18 Feb 2023 19:00 Cardiff 30 Benetton Rugby 13

A late Ben Thomas try secured all five points for Cardiff as they claimed a crucial BKT URC 30-13 win over Benetton Rugby.

The Blue and Blacks were put on the path to victory thanks to Owen Lane's first half brace, bagged either side of a Benetton effort in a hectic opening period at the Arms Park. 

The visitors battled back but a James Ratti second-half try kept Cardiff out of reach before Thomas snatched all five points in the dying moment of the clash.

7,008 turned out at the Arms Park, as the Blue and Blacks celebrated Regional Clubs Day with 42 grassroots clubs and more than 2,000 children in attendance, and there was plenty of action to enjoy. 

It was a fast and highly entertaining start at Cardiff Arms Park with 15-points scored in the opening six minutes. 

The Blue and Blacks were first to spark the scoreboard into action with Lane the recipient of a clever set line out play with Max Llewellyn used as a decoy. 

Wearing his Rhiwbina club socks, the wing took the ball off Kristian Dacey, who had peeled off the back of the lineout, and crashed over inside two minutes.

Evans was unable to add the extras and Benetton soon drew level thanks to Rhyno Smith, who crashed over in the right corner. 

The Italians also failed from the tee and there was barely time to catch a breath as Lane bagged his second just moments later.

It came in fortuitous circumstances with Ben Thomas’ attempted kick through blocked but ricocheted into the arms of Max Llewellyn.

Making his first appearance since recovering from an ankle injury, Llewellyn showed a calm head as he coasted through and dummied to the inside before putting Lane away. 

Evans was off target once more, with a swirling wind blowing across the Arms Park, but he was pulling the strings expertly in attack.

That soon however came to an end with the fly-half departing following a heavy collision after he took the ball to the line and released Llewellyn

The injury saw Cardiff reshuffle their back-line with Ben Thomas moving to fly-half and Matthew Morgan introduced at full-back. 

Thomas added a pair of penalties to stretch his side’s lead to 16-5, with Evans not returning from his HIA. 

Despite the 11-point lead, the game remained very much in the balance with Cardiff unconvincing and Benetton growing in confidence.

They responded with a try through Marco Zanon before Tomas Albornoz added a penalty with the final kick of the half to make it 16-13.

Italian indiscipline aided Cardiff in the second-half and the visitors were reduced to 14 when Tiziano Pasquali was sent to the sin-bin following a succession of scrum offences.

Benetton were fortunate not the be reduced further as they infringed close to their line but they were duly punished when Ratti broke off the back of a dominant scrum and powered over. 

It was an important try in the context of the game to regain momentum and Thomas made it seven points. Cardiff now led 23-13.

The Treviso based outfit threatened in the closing stages but with a three on one they were unable to finish with Morgan intercepting and clearing to save the day. 

However any hope of an Italian comeback was dashed when Albornoz had a rush of blood and struck Keiron Assiratti before making contact with the eye area.  He was duly shown red and the indiscretion fired up the home crowd for a frantic finale. 

Benetton continually looked threatening on the break, but were unable to find a breakthrough in their hunt to salvage a losing bonus point.

However, with the clock in red, it was Cardiff who pounced on a loose ball to set up one final chance. Lane, in the search for a hat-trick try, was hauled short, but his offload to Thomas send the centre crashing over to sent the Arms Park crowd into raptures. The homegrown utility back produced an equally impressive conversion from out wide as Cardiff move to ninth place in the table and only a point short of the play-off spot.