Cardiff rugby’s season slouches to miserable end as they’re thrashed by Italian side Benetton
Cardiff’s United Rugby Championship campaign came to a miserable conclusion on Friday night as they were subjected to a 69-21 defeat by Benetton in Treviso.
The abject result will once again have alarm bells ringing in Welsh rugby, with Cardiff boasting 11 Wales internationals in their side.
The Italian hosts had lost their previous five home matches against Welsh opposition but never looked like losing a fixture in which they scored a remarkable 10 tries.
Callum Braley, Tomas Albornoz and Rhyno Smith all touched down twice for the home side, while Lorenzo Cannone, Michele Lamaro, Federico Ruzza and Giovanni Pettinelli were also on the scoresheet.
Smith racked up 29 points for the second week running – the most by any player in a URC match this season.
Cardiff had to make do with two tries from Rhys Carre and one for Max Llewellyn, along with six points from the boot of Rhys Priestland, as they slipped to 14th in the final table.
Benetton applied the early pressure and made the first breakthrough in the 13th minute when Cannone went over following a line-out drive, with Smith adding the extras.
The hosts doubled their advantage three minutes later, with Albornoz taking the pass from Ignacio Brex before exploiting a gap in the Cardiff defence and sprinting for home, opening the door for Smith to split the posts again.
Italy skipper Lamaro was next to go over, running in under the posts after receiving a tidy offload from Ruzza. Smith could hardly have asked for an easier effort from the tee.
A Smith penalty followed and scrum-half Braley clinched the bonus point with another score under the posts that was again converted by Smith.
Carre ensured Cardiff did not end the half pointless, but even with Priestland’s conversion, the visitors trailed 31-7 at the break.
Prop Carre added a second shortly after the resumption, converted by Priestland, but Benetton were soon back in the groove with an excellent team try finished off by Albornoz.
Smith could not add the extras, but he rediscovered his range after some more good hands sent Braley over for his second in the 55th minute.
A Llewellyn try and two more points from Priestland’s boot reduced the arrears to 22, but Smith then scored Benetton’s seventh. Although he could not convert his own score, he did after Ruzza’s subsequent interception try.
Pettinelli then added try number nine before Smith rounded off a fantastic display by carrying Benetton into double figures for tries scored, converting both of the late touchdowns.
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