Benetton Treviso produced a magnificent display of mauling prowess on Saturday to beat the Southern Kings 22-19 in the PRO14 at Nelson Mandela University.
The hero of the day was undoubtedly the visitors’ hooker Hame Faiva, who scored a hat trick of tries in the first half.
All three five-pointers came after outstanding work in the lineout, followed by a rolling maul. The Kings had no answer to this tactic in the first 40 minutes.
Benetton had their tactics spot-on, with their forwards laying the foundation for the victory.
With a swirling wind making it difficult to kick at goal, Benetton opted for lineout-kicks, which brought great success. They kept the Kings under constant pressure with their clever kicking game.
Faiva’s first try came in the fifth minute and flyhalf Ian McKinley missed the conversion.
The Kings hit back when centre Tertius Kruger scored and flyhalf Masixole Banda converted for a 7-5 lead.
The visiting hooker then took over, scoring twice from driving mauls to put his team totally in control. McKinley converted once to leave Benetton in the lead by 17-7 at halftime.
The Italians played without 15 of their top players who are on national duty, but this did not hamper them.
Five minutes into the second half, Benetton scored their bonus-point try when left wing Monty Ioane left the Kings for dead after a grubber kick (22-7).
The Kings put the visitors under tremendous pressure late in the second half, but just could not get through the resolute defence soon enough.
At one stage, the home side forced 22 phases of play, but it all ended with Benetton winning a turnover.
The Kings came close in the 73rd minute, but Benetton defended their line well.
Undeniably the #GUINNESSPRO14 man of the match with a hat-trick in the first half for Hame Faiva to help @BenettonRugby beat @SouthernKingsSA 👏— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) December 1, 2018
He's presented his award by Dean Bossman on behalf of Guinness 🎖 #KINvBEN pic.twitter.com/HOJw9IdKKI
The South Africans eventually did make a dent into the Benetton lead when young replacement front-rower Luvuyo Pupuma forced his way over three minutes later, which Banda converted to reduce the deficit to 22-14.
Banda was sent off in the 80th minute, but the Kings still had time to score a third try when Kruger dotted down for a second time.
Southern Kings 19 – Tries: Tertius Kruger (2), Luvuyo Pupuma. Conversions: Masixole Banda (2).
Benetton 22 – Tries: Hame Faiva (3), Monty Ioane. Conversion: Ian McKinley (1).
African News Agency (ANA)