Benetton 29-26 Edinburgh Rugby: Yellow cards costly as Mike Blair's side go down in Italy
Edinburgh slipped to their second pre-season defeat, conceding a late, late penalty try to go down 29-26 to Benetton in Italy.
It was a disappointing conclusion to a match in which the visitors had fought hard to regain the lead after going down to 13 men in the second half.
Leading 12-10 at the break, Edinburgh were hit with a quick one-two between 51 and 55 minutes when Benetton ran in tries through Edoardo Padovani and Onisi Ratave while Jamie Ritchie and Sam Skinner were in the sin-bin.
Edinburgh came back with scores from Jack Blain and Nick Haining only to be undone in the final seconds. They will now go into the URC opener against Dragons next Saturday on the back of consecutive defeats, following the home loss to London Scottish last week.
This was the only senior rugby match involving a Scottish side to be played this weekend and a minute’s silence was observed in memory of the Queen.
The Stadio di Monigo was sparsely filled as Edinburgh made a decent start. An early interception by Matt Currie gave them their first sniff but the ball squirmed out of Jaco van der Walt’s hands.
The visitors continued to press and utilised their lineout maul to find a way through. Their initial the drive was held up, but Edinburgh scrum-half Ben Vellacott was able to feed the supporting Chris Dean who nipped in for the game’s opening try after 14 minutes.
The advantage was short-lived. After van der Walt’s conversion attempt drifted wide Edinburgh failed to deal with the restart and Benetton hit straight back through hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi who plundered the first of his two first-half tries.
Benetton lock Federico Ruzza was yellow-carded for collapsing a maul and Blair’s side pressed home their numerical advantage with a try on the half-hour, Muncaster going over from close range after good work by Ritchie. Van der Walt added the extras to move Edinburgh 12-5 ahead.
Benetton, with their full complement restored, reduced the deficit in the dying seconds of the half, with Lucchesi again forcing his way over.
A raft of substitutions disrupted the flow of the second half and the game was further interrupted by the card-happy referee Andrea Piardi who saw fit to send both Ritchie and debutant Skinner to the sin-bin. Benetton made the most of it, with winger Padovani nabbing a try and sub stand-off Giacomo Da Re converting.
Benetton increased their lead four minutes later when Onisi Ratave forced his way over. Da Re was off target this time but the Treviso side now led 22-12.
Edinburgh turned up the pressure and Benetton prop Tiziano Pasquali saw yellow for illegally trying to stem the flow. The visitors shipped the ball wide and Blain scored in the corner, Charlie Savala converting to reduce the lead to 22-19.
Edinburgh went ahead with six minutes left when the returning Bill Mata’s quick tap penalty caught the home side on the hop. The Edinburgh forwards piled in and Haining touched down at the post. Savala's conversion made it 26-22 to Edinburgh but Benetton weren’t finished. They pushed and pushed in the last minutes and Edinburgh were adjudged to have resorted to nefarious means to stop them, leading to a penalty try and a yellow card for Mata.
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