Benneton best Zebre

Benneton best Zebre

Benetton beat Zebre Parma for the second time in the space of a week as a 36-14 victory at Stadio Monigo maintained their fine form in the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Having won 31-24 in Parma last weekend, Benetton overcame their Italian rivals for the eighth successive time with a try count of six to two underlining their superiority.

Zebre were on the back foot from the third minute as Benetton set up a driving maul and hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi was the beneficiary, with Rhyno Smith adding the extras from the touchline.

The visitors were breached again when Onisi Ratave darted down the blindside to set up the supporting Alessandro Garbisi.

Smith converted from wide out and, having conceded 14 points in 12 minutes, it appeared ominous for Zebre.

But Zebre's scrum gave them a foothold in proceedings and Gonzalo Garcia sent Geronimo Prisciantelli over for an easy score.

Skipper Prisciantelli converted and a try-saving tackle from Smith on Simone Gesi denied Zebre the chance to draw level.

Benetton's third try came just before half-time after another driving maul from a line-out was just about held up.

The ball was recycled for centres Malakai Fekitoa and the outstanding Ratave to punch through the middle and Leonardo Marin swept out a long pass for Ignacio Mendy to make the corner.

Benetton secured their bonus point four minutes into the second half when Lucchesi and Michele Lamaro worked a clever move at the front of a line-out.

Lucchesi chipped ahead and Alessandro Izekor capitalised on Andrea Zambonin's failure to gather to dot down.

Zebre fought back as the forwards bared their teeth once more, Luca Bigi crossing from a powerful drive and Prisciantelli converting.

Benetton's three-score lead was quickly restored as Smith collected a high ball and Sebastian Negri charged through an inviting gap.

Replacement Tomas Albornoz took over the kicking duties to convert and the fly-half soon finished another fine home move as Benetton made it seven wins and a draw from nine URC matches.

United Rugby Championship player of the match

Fijian centre Ratave was at the heart of Benetton's best work.

A formidable ball-carrier throughout, Ratave constantly had Zebre on the back foot and his superb break down the blindside set up the Garbisi try that put Benetton in early control.

Play of the match

Benetton's third try was as pleasing on the eye as it was important, handing the hosts a 19-7 interval lead.

Hooker Lucchesi led a driving maul from the line-out before it was released to the backs. Fekitoa and Ratave took it up the middle and Marin's sweet long pass off his left hand freed wing Mendy into the corner.

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