Benetton Maintained Stranglehold On Zebre Parma With Good Win


Benetton Rugby maintained their stranglehold on the Italian derby by dispatching Zebre Parma 31-24 in Round 8 of the United Rugby Championship.

A seventh successive victory in the fixture continues Benetton's superb start to the season, with their eight league matches producing six wins, a draw and only one defeat.

Zebre began strongly and controlled the final quarter, but outside of these periods, their defence was breached far too easily with wing Paolo Odogwu a thorn in their side until he departed injured after the interval.

They could not have wished for a better start when full-back Lorenzo Pani collected a chip through following a line-out and touched down.

The quality of the finish was being matched by the work of the home pack but once Geronimo Prisciantelli had booted a penalty, they allowed Benetton to build a head of steam.

Odogwu sidestepped through the defence to get the attack moving but it was forward power that delivered the points with hooker Bautista Bernasconi driving over from close range.

Zebre's abysmal defending invited Tommaso Menoncello over for the visitors' second, although the Italy centre also showed strength to fend off two tackles before switching on the afterburners.

Jacob Umaga's first try for Benetton exposed Zebre once again after Rhyno Smith had burst through a gap and it was beginning to look bleak for the blue shirts.

A yellow card shown to scrum-half Gonzalo Garcia for a dangerous challenge further eroded their position and when Odogwu gathered a long pass to leap over in the 45th minute they had a mountain to climb.

Benetton number eight Toa Halafihi followed Garcia into the sin-bin for bringing down a maul and twice Zebre were kept out by turnovers from Michele Lamaro on the whitewash.

Benetton were pinned in their 22 for the remainder of the match and conceded tries to Jacopo Bianchi and Leonard Krumov, but they had already done enough.

Zebre Parma: Tries: Lorenzo Pani, Iacopo Bianchi, Leonard Krumov. Conversions: Geronimo Prisciantelli (3). Penalty: Geronimo Prisciantelli.
Benetton: Tries: Bautista Bernasconi, Tommaso Menoncello, Jacob Umaga, Paolo Odogwu. Conversions: Jacob Umaga (4). Penalty: Jacob Umaga.


Zebre Parma: 15 Lorenzo Pani, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Fetuli Paea, 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Geronimo Prisciantelli (c), 9 Gonzalo Garcia, 8 Davide Ruggeri, 7 Giacomo Ferrari, 6 Guido Volpi, 5 Andrea Zambonin, 4 David Sisi, 3 Juan Pitinari, 2 Marco Manfredi, 1 Danilo Fischetti. Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Luca Rizzoli, 18 Matteo Nocera, 19 Leonard Krumov, 20 Iacopo Bianchi, 21 Alessandro Fusco, 22 Giovanni Montemauri, 23 Luca Morisi.

Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Paolo Odogwu, 13 Tommaso Menoncello, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Onisi Ratave, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro (c), 6 Alessandro Izekor, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Edoardo Iachizzi, 3 Giosué Zilocchi, 2 Bautista Bernasconi, 1 Mirco Spagnolo. Replacements: 16 Siua Maile, 17 Thomas Gallo, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Riccardo Favretto, 20 Henry Time-Stowers, 21 Alessandro Garbisi, 22 Leonardo Marin, 23 Edoardo Padovani.