Support our Nation today - please donate here

Benetton beat Cardiff to become first Italian team to make European semi-finals

08 Apr 2023 3 minute read
Cardiff Rugby

Benetton made history by becoming the first Italian team to reach the semi-finals of a European tournament as they came from behind to beat two-time Challenge Cup champions Cardiff 27-23 at Stadio Monigo.

Having built up a 10-point lead in the first half, the home side found themselves trailing by 10 after a bad start to the second period, but hit back to clinch the win, and a semi-final trip to Toulon, with a juggling corner try from Marcus Watson with 10 minutes to go.

Cardiff director of rugby Dai Young had asked for the same intensity as his team had shown a week earlier when they dumped Sale Sharks out of the competition and his players certainly came out of the blocks right from the kick-off.

Leading by example, skipper Josh Turnbull turned over a ruck on the home 22 to set up Rhys Priestland for his first shot at goal with 38 seconds showing on the clock.

Back in his favoured number 10 role after a starring performance at full-back against Sale, the former Wales international gave his side an immediate lead.

It did not take long for Jacob Umaga to level things up for the home side and it was the Italians who were on the front foot for much of the rest of the first half.

A second Umaga penalty gave them the lead in the 11th minute before South African full back Rhyno Smith galloped over in the right corner for the first try of the match midway through the opening period.

Umaga’s conversion made it a 10-point gap, but Cardiff cut that to three by the break after Thomas Young pounced following a piece of good fortune in the home 22.

Tomos Williams ran up the blindside from a scrum near halfway and his chip ahead allowed Owen Lane to chase it down and try to regather.


He stumbled as he tried to catch the ball, but somehow rolled it backwards. Young was on hand to pick up and race over. Referee Luke Pearce declared a try and the TMO confirmed it after a review.

Priestland’s touchline conversion made it a one-score game and then turned the scoreboard on its head at the start of the second half. Within three minutes of the restart it was Priestland’s penalty that levelled the scores and then he converted a great try by Wales centre Mason Grady off the left touchline.

All of a sudden, there was daylight for Cardiff at 20-13 and they seemed to be on their way to the final four. Back-to-back penalties allowed Benetton to kick their way into the corner and from the line-out they battered away at the Cardiff line until Italian national captain Michele Lamaro found a gap through which to score.

Umaga’s conversion made it 20-20, but five minutes later Priestland banged over a 42-metre penalty to give his side the lead once again. But Benetton refused to be denied and after kicking deep into the Cardiff 22 once again they sent Watson racing in at the corner for a try which Tomas Albornoz converted off the touchline to force Cardiff to score more than a penalty to win.

Benetton then defended their line superbly at the death, winning a scrum after holding up a driving line-out before successfully holding out a final attack in their 22 which ended with Lopeti Timani being penalised for a neck roll.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.