Benetton Treviso 22 – 20 Scarlets
Heartbreak for the Scarlets and jubilation for Treviso in a match that went right down to the wire.
The visiting west Wales region had much the better of the first half. A solid if unspectacular scrum, led to a break down the left for full back Jordan Williams. Quick recycling of the ball handed Rhys Priestland the opportunity to open the scoring as he calmly slotted over a drop goal – had the out of form ten finally found his kicking boots?
It was the Scarlets pressing again a few minutes later, when a great run from wing Fenby saw him elude the grasping Treviso defence and he showed strength to cross over for a try. Priestland converted from the touch line to give them a 10-0 lead.
Almost immediately Treviso were down the other end of the pitch and attacking near the Scarlets line. What should have been a routine clearance box kick from scrum half Davies was lazily taken, and a charge down led to a Treviso try. The conversion missed.
It was the visitors that were playing the better rugby, continuously pressuring Treviso when they were in possession and when after another handling error came, Fenby pounced and kicked the ball down field. Racing ahead of three Treviso defenders he controlled the ball to the try line where he crossed for a second deserved try. Priestland converted and the teams finished the half with the score 20-5 to the visitors after fly half Priestland had also slotted over a penalty.
The second half saw Treviso come out a changed team. Their scrums began to dominate and their driving maul was a potent weapon. Some last ditch defending had seen one attempt at a Treviso try held up, but it wasn’t too long after that their forward crashed over for a hard earned score. The conversion was good to bring the scores to 12-20.
Despite limited possession, the Scarlets remained the more threatening side with the ball in hand, but while they had an overlap, they opted to try and chip the ball over the Treviso defending line. Another charge down occurred with Treviso gratefully accepting the points. Fifteen minutes to go and the score was now 19-20 and it was set for a nail biting finish.
All momentum was now with the home side and their forwards started to turn the screw. A superb driving maul saw them march 60 meters down field, and the resulting infringement from Scarlets captain Rob McCusker led to a Scarlets yellow card.
It now seemed inevitable that the Treviso forwards would crash over to score the winning try, yet superb defence kept the Italian side out for just under 10 minutes, until the Scarlets were able to win the ball and kick it clear.
Treviso, with only two minutes left on the clock, looked to run it back but were halted on the halfway line. To the Scarlets’ despair, they were penalised rightly for not rolling away, and up stepped Alberto di Bernardo to take the penalty kick at goal that would win his team the game.
Agonisingly for the Scarlets the kick was good, and Treviso finished the game 22-20 winners, after a stunning second half fight back.
The power and determination shown by the Treviso forwards can be nothing but applauded, as they gave everything to drag themselves back into the game. For the Scarlets it is yet another game of missed chances, where two lapses in concentration handed their opponents twelve points. Positives can be taken though in that their Wales star Rhys Priestland, finally seems to be playing himself into form.
It was a deserved victory for Treviso, who again proved just how tough they are to play at home.
Treviso: 15 Luke McLean 14 Tommaso Benvenuti 13 Alberto Sgarbi
12 Luca Morisi 11 Tommaso Iannone 10 Kristopher Burton 9 Tobias Botes 8 Robert Barbieri
7 Alessandro Zanni 6 Simone Favaro 5 Valerio Bernabò 4 Antonio Pavanello (captain) 3 Lorenzo Cittadini 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini 1 Michele Rizzo
Replacements: 16 Franco Sbaraglini 17 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet 18 Pedro Di Santo 19 Francesco Minto 20 Dean Budd 21 Paul Derbyshire 22 Fabio Semenzato 23 Alberto Di Bernardo
Scarlets: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Jon Davies, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Phil John, 2 Matthew Rees, 3 Deacon Manu, 4 Sione Timani, 5 George Earle, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 8 Rob McCusker (capt).
Replacements: Ken Owens, Peter Edwards, Samson Lee, Aaron Shingler, Kieran Murphy, Tavis Knoyle, Adam Warren, Kristian Phillips.