Tough weekend for SA URC sides in Italy as Stormers go down to Benetton, Lions win in Wales
Stormers’ failure to capitalise on their opportunities led to their second defeat in the early stages of the United Rugby Championship (URC) season.
The 2022 champions of the URC went down 20-17 to Benetton in a highly contested match in Treviso, Italy on Saturday.
The match produced five tries, with the losers outscoring the hosts with three to two but Benetton did enough to claim the win on the day.
Warrick Gelant, Scarra Ntubeni and Courtnall Skosan scored for the Stormers while Benetton’s tries came from Marco Zanon and Alessandro Izekor.
The Stormers came into the game on the back of defeat to Glasgow Warriors in their first match of the tour.
Before that, the last season’s runners up had registered back-to-back victories against the Lions in the South African derby in Johannesburg and also claimed a win over Scarlets in Cape Town.
The two sides, Stormers and Benneton, delivered an exciting high intensity game with both teams doing their absolute best to keep each other at bay.
The Stormers looked strong and were always threatening with their maul drives.
The first of the three tries that were scored in the opening half was by the hosts in the 23rd minute after the sides had struggled to break each other's strong defence.
Benetton drew the first blood when Marco Zanon pounced on a grubber by his flyhalf Tomas Albornoz, who added the extras, to score an easy try.
The Capetonians responded with their own well-orchestrated try which was scored by Gelant on 31 minutes.
The try came off another solid maul by the Stormers and great cross-kick by Jean-Luc du Plessis, who was unsuccessful with his kick for poles which could have levelled the matters in Treviso.
A bit of ill-discipline by the Stormers helped the hosts to increase the lead to 10-5 when Albornoz scored a penalty after Skosan was penalised for a late hit.
However, the John Dobson-coached side found their second try in the final 10 minutes of the second half when Ntubeni touched down at the back of another strong maul from the travellers.
When it looked like the side would go to the break level at 10-10, South African-born fullback produced a moment of brilliance for Benetton when he scored a good drop goal on the stroke of half time to give the hosts a three points narrow advantage.
Despite a strong start for the Stomers and creating a number of chances in the second half, it was the hosts who were able to put theirs to good use.
Skosan gave the Stormers a lead for the first time in the game when he crossed the whitewash on 47 minutes.
After missing his first two kicks for poles, it was third time lucky for Du Plessis, making 17-13 in favour of his side.
But the Italians continued to display great fighting spirit and they were rewarded when Izekor went over just before the hour mark, and they held on for the victory.
The Stormers were the second side to lose the match in Italy this weekend as the Sharks were stunned by Zebre on Friday night. The Bulls went to Wales and conquered Cardiff Rugby.
Also, the Lions completed a successful mission in Wales when they defeated Scarlets 24-23 on Saturday.
This is the Lions first win of the season after three losses on the trot.
Stormers (10) 17 Tries: Warrick Gelant, Scarra Ntubeni, Courtnall Skosan Conversion: Jean-Luc du Plessis
Benetton: (13) 20 Tries: Marco Zanon, Alessandro Izekor Conversions: Tomas Albornoz, Jacob Umaga Tomas Penalties: Albornoz Drop goal: Rhyno Smith
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