Benetton 26 Harlequins 21

Saturday, 8th December 2018 @ 15:00



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Harlequins suffered a last-minute heartbreak at Benetton in the round three Challenge Cup fixture when Monty Ioane ran in the final seconds to give the hosts a 26-21 victory.

Quins were not at their best throughout the match but, when Marcus Smith’s penalty brought the scores level at 21-21 with only five minutes remaining, they appeared to have done enough to take something from a scrappy match.

But Smith’s decision to kick downfield with 30 seconds left ended up handing an opportunity to Benetton and, having kept the ball alive, Ioane got over in the corner with the clock having gone dead.

Earlier the match had started brilliantly for the visitors when man of the moment Alex Dombrandt was released on the right to charge over for a try in the second minute. James Lang was unable to convert but the portents looked good on an afternoon that seemed made for running rugby.

But Benetton came back strongly and minutes later had a try of their own when Luca Sperandio went over in the corner from an excellent flowing move in the backs after five minutes. Ian McKinley converted and the hosts took the lead which they extended just a few minutes later with a penalty in front of the posts.

With the score at 10-5 after 10 minutes Quins regrouped, dominated the majority of the half and a couple of neat kicks from James Lang and Mike Brown threatened to unpick an organised Benetton defence. But again it was Dombrandt who delivered with a try after 20 minutes to put Quins back on level terms. Benetton hesitated after what looked like a knock-on from Gabriel Ibitoye and Joe Marchant capitalised by jinking his way past several defenders before finding Dombrandt on his shoulder 10 yards from the line. The flanker made it 10-10 under the posts and Lang scored the extras to make it 10-12.

But Benetton were dogged in their pursuit of victory and earned another penalty after 30 minutes around 30 yards out but in front of the posts. Then Sperandio worked his magic again, finishing off another impressive move by the hosts and scoring in the corner. McKinley could not convert this time but Benetton took a dangerous 18-12 lead into half-time.

Neither side were able to dominate the early exchanges of the second half by Quins were able to chip away at the deficit when Smith, on for Lang early in the half, scored a penalty after 47 minutes. However they soon gifted another penalty back to Benetton just minutes later as the hosts retained their six-point lead at 21-15 with a little under half an hour remaining. Smith was then given another chance to close the gap with a penalty after 57 minutes.

The scores remained at 21-18 until the last five minutes when, under considerable pressure exerted by the influence of Paul Lasike, on as a Game Changer in the centres, Benetton conceded another penalty which Smith gratefully accepted.

But then came that crazy denouement as Ioane piled over in the corner with the last move of the match and Quins captain James Chisholm was left to rue a painful defeat on the road.

“We are very disappointed to have lost here,” said Chisholm, “But it was not because of what happened at the end of the game. We were just not good enough across the board this afternoon and this very frustrating.

“We now look forward to Benetton visiting The Stoop for the return fixture next week and look forward to righting a few wrongs in front of our own supporters.

“The travelling fans who came to Italy were brilliant today and we are just sorry that we were not able to give them the result they wanted.”

Get your tickets for the re-match against Benetton now at tickets.quins.co.uk or by calling 020 8410 6010.

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