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Cardiff face tricky Benetton task

Thursday 6th April 2023

12:15 pm (GMT)

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Cardiff face tricky Benetton task

Cardiff Rugby fly-half Rhys Priestland, pictured receiving the ball

Cardiff Rugby’s attempt to win the EPCR Challenge Cup for the third time will undergo a tough examination when they visit Benetton Rugby in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

While the Italian club have reached this stage only once before and lost 31-25 at Montpellier two years ago, they crushed Connacht Rugby 41-19 in the Round of 16 last weekend at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo, after finishing second in Pool B.

Like Cardiff, they won three of their pool games, but the Welsh region came third in Pool A and that has cost them in the quarter-final draw.

However, Cardiff are fresh from a dramatic 28-27 home victory last weekend over Gallagher Premiership title challengers Sale Sharks, who had dropped down into the EPCR Challenge Cup from the Heineken Champions Cup.

The clubs’ first meeting in the competition kicks off at 15:00 UK and Irish time, and can be viewed on epcrugby.tv, BT Sport, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport and FloRugby.

Key quote

Cardiff Rugby director of rugby Dai Young: “We have to have another performance like we had against Sale. We went out there last year and had our dinner fed to us if you remember. They’re a good team, a quality team and are very hard to beat at home.”

Benetton Rugby

  • Sebastian Negri has made more carries than any other forward in the EPCR Challenge Cup this season (50), including a round-high 18 last weekend.
  • Michele Lamoro has made more tackles than anyone else in the tournament (66).
  • Jacob Umaga made a round-high three try assists last weekend.

Cardiff Rugby

  • Josh Adams is the joint top try-scorer in the competition this season (6).
  • Rhys Priestland is the leading scorer in the EPCR Challenge Cup this term so far (44)
  • Mason Grady has made the most clean breaks for a centre in the tournament (8).

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Cardiff crash out at Benetton

Saturday 8th April 2023

5:15 pm (GMT)

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Cardiff crash out at Benetton

Benetton’s Rhyno Smith celebrates after scoring

Cardiff Rugby’s hopes of a third EPCR Challenge Cup title ended at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo with a 27-23 quarter-final defeat at the hands of Benetton Rugby on Saturday afternoon.

The Welsh region, who won the competition in 2010 and 2018, played their part in a topsy-turvy affair – Thomas Young and Mason Grady crossing the whitewash in addition to 13 points from the boot of Rhys Priestland.

Benetton, however, become the first Italian team to reach an EPCR semi-final thanks to tries from Rhyno Smith, Michele Lamaro and Marcus Watson – Jacob Umaga adding ten points from the tee.

The early stages were dominated by the kicking game – fly-half Priestland opening the scoring with a penalty inside the opening two minutes. Counterpart Umaga responded with two penalties of his own to put the Italians into an early lead.

Following a yellow card for Cardiff’s Teddy Williams, Benetton took full advantage of the extra man as they shifted the ball through the hands to full-back Smith, who showcased sublime acceleration to cross.

Cardiff replied on the half hour mark. A beautiful kick down the line by Tomos Williams allowed Owen Lane to break in behind the Italian defences. He looked to have knocked forward, but the officials adjudged it to have gone backwards to Thomas Young, who picked up to dot down and reduce arrears at half-time to three points.

The Welsh region levelled in the early minutes of the second half through Priestland, before they delivered a further blow to the hosts’ hopes. Centre Grady picked up the ball 10 metres into Italian territory and rumbled into the corner through two tacklers.

Midway through the second period it was Benetton’s turn to level proceedings. A well worked lineout inside the Cardiff 22 allowed the hosts to build through the phases. Eventually, the ball came to flanker Lamaro who powered through to dot down.

Cardiff regained the lead with a 62nd minute Priestland penalty, his third of the contest, but the crucial blow was dealt by the Italian side shortly after.

Benetton moved the ball swiftly through the hands from right to left into the path of wing Watson, who bobbled the ball as he was diving for line but managed to recover – and avoid a knock-on – to send the home crowd wild.

The victory secures Benetton a semi-final against RC Toulon at the Stade Félix Mayol on the weekend of April 28/29/30.

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