Benetton delays to snatch victory from Stormers
The Stormers will kick each other as they imploded in the final 20 minutes of their game against Benetton to give the victory to the Italian side.
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The visitors wasted an 11-point lead early in the second half to surrender to a 22-18 loss to Treviso.
Benetton started his life under Marco Bortolami with an impressive 22-18 home victory over the DHL Stormers in a thrilling United Rugby Championship debut.
The lead changed hands several times in Italy before teenager Tommaso Menoncello provided the crucial score with 10 minutes remaining to give Kieran Crowley’s successor a first charge win.
The Stormers, at the start of a four-week tour of Europe, only had to wait 72 seconds before opening their account when center Rikus Pretorius recovered a grubber kick to cross after two minutes at the Stadio Monigo.
Rookie opening half Mania Libbok failed with the resulting conversion and Rainbow Cup-winning Benetton quickly produced a response.
After winning early in the battle before, it was hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi who restored parity with 16 minutes of play.
Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro combined well with Manuel Zuliani, who landed at Lucchesi and the Italy international produced an excellent finish to run to almost 40 meters.
Argentina’s opening half Tomas Albornoz, replacing Paolo Garbisi at Treviso, added the extras but his counterpart Libbok scored his first points for the South Africans to give them an 11-7 lead at halftime.
John Dobson’s side extended that advantage early in the second period when Pretorius took over as supplier, showing quick feet under the posts before unloading on compatriot Ruhan Nel, who won an easy score.
Libbok’s last successful kick had visitors control, but Benetton fought back after eventually turning territory and possession into opportunities.
The bold decision to turn down three easy points was justified near the hour mark when two of Benetton’s substitutes combined, with Federico Ruzza claiming the roster before Ivan Nemer passed after a maul at the wheel.
Albornoz’s excellent transformation continued and when he scored a penalty three minutes later, the gap was reduced to one.
Bortolami’s men were in the ascendant and, supported by a vibrant home crowd, the hosts moved ahead.
Albornoz kept his cool after Benetton’s forwards were held back at the line with Menoncello picked on the left and the teenager finished in the corner with 10 minutes left to give the Italians a relentless victory.
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