Benetton 18 - 16 Edinburgh: Missed kicks costly for capital side

Two missed kicks late in the game added up to one missed opportunity for Edinburgh, who flew home from Treviso with only a losing bonus point when they might well have seized a win at the death. Normally reliable stand-off Jaco van der Walt was the man with the off-target attempts at goal, and although conditions were difficult, the South African could usually be relied upon to get one if not both on target.

Scrum-half Henry Pyrgos gets ready to put the ball in at an Edinburgh scrum. Picture: Elena Barbini/INPHO/Shutterstock
Scrum-half Henry Pyrgos gets ready to put the ball in at an Edinburgh scrum. Picture: Elena Barbini/INPHO/Shutterstock

Benetton captain Tommaso Allan was also off target with a conversion and a penalty, but crucially, his team scored two tries to the visitors’ one, all three coming in the first half.

A win would have made it four wins out of five in the Pro14 for Richard Cockerill’s side, but over the piece Benetton just about deserved the four points. Heavy rain restricted the opportunities for running rugby, and the second half in particular was an unlovely affair, with the error count steadily mounting – especially at the lineout, where both teams were culpable.

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Benetton were rewarded for an inventive and energetic start when they took an early lead through Jayden Hayward. A spill by Magnus Bradbury had given the Italians a scrum in good position, and after several futile phases of forward play, an exquisite chip ahead by Allan sat up perfectly on the bounce for the full-back to gather. Allan converted, then swapped penalties with Van der Walt to put his team 10-3 ahead.

Edinburgh hit back midway through the half with an excellent counter-attack, initiated by Damien Hoyland. Mark Bennett carried on into the Benetton half before his chip took a helpful deflection straight into the arms of the supporting Luke Crosbie, who touched down, with Van der Walt adding the two points.

Benetton suffered a big dip in energy for a time after that score, but when Jamie Bhatti was yellow-carded for an off-the-ball tackle that appeared more clumsy than malicious, they regained the lead within a minute with an unconverted try. Their first assault on the line from the scrum penalty ended when Ratuva Tavuyara knocked on with the line at his mercy, but they made no mistake at the second time of asking, with hooker Baravalle executing from the maul.

Conceding so quickly was an ominous sign for the 14 men, but they ended the half on top and might well have taken the lead before the break. Instead they had to make do with a penalty, which narrowed the gap at the break to two points.

With conditions no better and bodies tiring, the second half was even more of an attritional affair. Van der Walt soon nudged his team in front for the first time with a penalty, but before the hour was up Allan restored Benetton’s advantage with another three-pointer. The pair were both off target with subsequent efforts, and when Van der Walt missed again with four minutes to play, Edinburgh’s hopes were gone.