Benetton Claim Bonus-point Win Over Zebre


Benetton scored six tries as they eased to a 38-5 bonus-point win over Italian rivals Zebre at the Stadio Monigo.

Tomas Albornoz and brothers Niccolo and Lorenzo Cannone touched down as the hosts claimed a 19-0 interval lead in the Christmas Eve encounter.

The domination continued in the second period with further Benetton scores from Rhyno Smith, Giacomo Nicotera and Riccardo Favretto, while Smith finished with four conversions. Luca Bigi claimed Zebre's consolation.

Zebre applied some pressure in the early stages but it did not take long for Benetton to take control as Albornoz burst through a gap, beat another challenge and sped away to the line.

Smith converted and almost went over for another try soon after but was denied out wide by a fine tackle from Geronimo Prisciantelli.

Benetton enjoyed a further spell camped on the Zebre line before finally claiming their second try on the half-hour.

The influential Albornoz was again involved as both he and half-back partner Alessandro Garbisi opened up the defence for Niccolo Cannone to touch down.

Lorenzo Cannone then underlined Benetton's first-half dominance by claiming another just before the break, taking a smart pass back inside from Michele Lamaro to finish a fine move by the posts.

Zebre's hopes of getting back into the game suffered a blow early in the second period when Marco Manfredi was sin-binned for a no-arms tackle on Simone Ferrari.

Benetton took immediate advantage of their extra man as they pieced together a flowing attack that ended with Nacho Brex sending Smith over for a fourth try and a bonus point.

The procession continued as Nicotera burrowed his way for another from a maul.

Zebre finally registered 16 minutes from time when Bigi was driven over following a line-out but Benetton were soon back in command.

Onisi Ratave thought he had touched down when he gathered a Marco Zanon pass only to be denied by the TMO, but Riccardo Favretto scored under the posts moments later.

Smith's fourth conversion of the afternoon wrapped up a comfortable win for the hosts.

Benetton Rugby: Tries: Giacomo Nicotera, Niccolo Cannone (2), Tomas Albornoz, Rhyno Smith, Riccardo Favretto. Conversions: Rhyno Smith (4).
Zebre Parma: Try: Luca Bigi.