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Benetton eye upset at Toulon

Friday 28th April 2023

11:00 am (GMT)

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Benetton eye upset at Toulon

Benetton’s Rhyno Smith has scored five tries in this season's EPCR Challenge Cup

Benetton Rugby will go in search of further history when they visit RC Toulon in the EPCR Challenge Cup semi-finals on Sunday.

The Treviso-based outfit are the first Italian team to reach the last four of an EPCR competition and will be looking to pull off a shock by overturning TOP 14 heavyweights Toulon at the Stade Félix Mayol.

The hosts have significant EPCR pedigree, having lifted the Heineken Champions Cup on three occasions, and they are also regulars in the EPCR Challenge Cup final, reaching the showpiece game for a fourth time last season.

Toulon have yet to lift the trophy, with each of their four finals ending in defeat, but after thrashing Lyon – the team who denied them the title in 2022 – in the quarter-finals, they will be confident of going one better this season.

Prior to this campaign, Benetton had only ever progressed as far as the quarter-finals in the EPCR Challenge Cup, but they recorded a stunning victory over Cardiff Rugby earlier this month to make this season one to remember.

The game kicks off at 12:30 (UK & Irish time) and is available to watch on France TV, BT Sport, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport, FloRugby and epcrugby.tv.

Key quotes

RC Toulon back Jérémy Sinzelle: “We will have to take this Italian team very seriously. They play very good rugby and are very well structured with a nice back line. It’s a team who are growing.”

Benetton Rugby scrum-half Dewaldt Duvenage: “I feel some nervous energy, which is always a positive thing. We are ready to face the challenge and we are happy and excited for the occasion. We want to make our fans proud of us.”

Key facts

RC Toulon

  • Jiuta Wainiqolo scored two tries in the quarter-finals, taking his total to a tournament-leading six this season with Cardiff Rugby’s Josh Adams and Glasgow Warriors’ Jonny Matthews.
  • Cornell du Preez made more tackles than any other player in the last round (26).
  • Sergio Parisse has made 25 defensive ruck entries in the competition so far, slowing down the ball on 19 occasions.
  • Toulon have won more scrum penalties on their own feed than any other team (18).

Benetton Rugby

  • Sebastian Negri has made more carries than any other player (60). His gain-line success rate is 43%.
  • Manuel Zuliani has won more turnovers than any other player remaining in the competition (8), including five jackals.
  • Benetton have scored more tries in the last half hour of matches than any other team (11).

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14-man Toulon too good for Benetton

Sunday 30th April 2023

2:16 pm (GMT)

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14-man Toulon too good for Benetton

Duncan Paia'aua goes over for RC Toulon's opening try against Benetton Rugby in the EPCR Challenge Cup semi-final

RC Toulon secured a second successive EPCR Challenge Cup final as they beat Benetton Rugby 23-0 at the Stade Félix Mayol on Sunday despite seeing captain Charles Ollivon sent off early on.

Tries from Duncan Paia’aua and Beka Gigashvili, plus 13 points from the boot of Dan Biggar, saw a commanding Toulon side set up a meeting with Glasgow Warriors in Dublin next month.

Benetton, who became the first Italian side to play an EPCR semi-final, saw their historic campaign come to an end as they failed to capitalise on their extra man.

Toulon immediately stamped their authority on the contest and scored the game’s opening on try on four minutes as No.8 Sergio Parisse produced a brilliant grubber kick in behind the Benetton defence to allow centre Paia’aua to dot down, fly-half Biggar converting.

But the hosts would suffer a huge setback moments after the restart as flanker Ollivon was sent off for a high tackle on Benetton full-back Matteo Minozzi.

Toulon remained composed and in charge of proceedings, though, with Biggar extending their lead with a penalty before prop Gigashvili powered over from close range on 17 minutes.

Biggar’s conversion put the TOP 14 outfit 17 points up and they would take that lead into half-time as Benetton failed to capatilise on lengthy spells of possession and pressure.

The visitors endured a nightmare start to the second half as hooker Siua Maile was sin-binned for taking Paia’aua out off the ball and Biggar added two quick-fire penalties.

The game fizzled out over the closing stages as Toulon managed the game smarlty and Benetton attacks repeatedly broke down amid handling errors.

The EPCR Challenge Cup final takes place at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on May 19. Click HERE for more details on EPCR’s 2023 finals. 

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