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After ending a nine year wait for a European win on the road last weekend with their 28-15 triumph in Bayonne, Benetton Treviso will have another landmark in sight in the return game in Italy.
It is 12 years since Benetton Treviso won two games in a row in Europe – Rounds 2 and 3 in the European Cup in 2004/05. They beat Bourgoin 34-0 away and followed that up with a 29-23 home win over Bath.
Having had such a tough time in the PRO12 this season, experiencing the winning feeling in the Challenge Cup has helped build some confidence in Kieran Crowley’s squad and another win over the TOP 14 side will provide another step forward.
International outside half Tomasso Allan was the key man in Bayonne, kicking 13 points and generally dictating the course of events. They also outscored the home side by three tries to two.
Bayonne’s fans certainly let their team know what they felt about their side’s performance last week and Benjamin Thiéry, who led the team, said training had been “very intense” in the build-up to the return.
“We know what we did, or rather what we didn’t do, against Bayonne. We didn’t linger on it this week,” said Thiéry. We have everything to do in the return game, although we start from such a low point that we can only do better this weekend. Training has been very intense and we now we need to show some fight.
“We’re aware that we put in a poor performance and we were all upset. It's okay for the fans to hiss at us from the stands, but it hurt us and we need to react.”
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Benetton Treviso overcame the handicap of seeing two players pick up yellow cards to complete a notable double over the TOP 14 side.
After ending a nine year wait for a European win on the road in Bayonne with their 28-15 triumph the Italians bridged a 12 year gap since they last completed back-to-back wins in Europe.
You had to go back to Rounds 2 and 3 in the European Cup in 2004/05, when they beat Bourgoin 34-0 away and followed that up with a 29-23 home win over Bath, for the last time Treviso had enjoyed successive wins in the toughest of tournaments.
Bayonne, who were hissed off the pitch on their home ground a week earlier, got off to a flying start and built up a 10 point lead as Raphael Lagarde kicked a penalty and then converted a try from full back Julien Tisseron.
But their lead didn’t last long. By the break the home forwards had built up a sufficient head of steam to ensure the PRO12 team went into the half-time interval with a 21-10 advantage.
David Odiete launched the fightback with a 17th minute try that Tommy Allan improved. Luca Bigi was next across the Bayonne try line before a penalty try and two more Allan conversions changed the face of the game.
It could have been even more of a lead had Allan not missed with a penalty on the stroke of half-time and then left the door open for Bayonne. Braam Steyn was the first of the home side to see yellow and four minutes after he went to the sin-bin Thibault Lacroix crossed for a try for the visitors that Lagarde converted.
Next into the bin was Luca Sperandio, although this time Bayonne couldn’t capitalise on their advantage. Treviso tightened their defence and there were no more scores.