Lions’ second half fightback secures bonus-point win over Benetton in Treviso

Emmanuel Tshituka scored two tries to inspire the Lions to a bonus point-win over Benetton in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday

FILE - Emmanuel Tshituka scored two tries to inspire the Lions to a bonus point-win over Benetton in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Mar 25, 2023


Cape Town — A second-half fightback inspired by flanker Emmanuel Tshituka's two tries secured a bonus-point victory of 32-28 for the Lions over Benetton in their United Rugby Championship (URC) clash in Treviso.

The Johannesburg side kept their hopes alive to secure a place in the Champions Cup next season, although, for a large part of the match, it didn't look like they would defeat the home side.

But three tries in the space of seven minutes, two by the hard-working Tshituka and one through speedy winger Rabz Maxwane, secured a much-needed bonus point.

This win, with two matches left in the regular season, keeps their fate of securing rugby in the top flight of Europe next season in their hands.

If they want to play Champions Cup rugby though they can't deliver a similar performance as they did in Saturday's first half in Treviso.

It was a lacklustre performance coupled with so many errors that one would've thought that the players did not know what was at stake if they lost.

The visitors struggled to string anything noteworthy together in the first 40 minutes with Benetton enjoying most of the momentum in front of their home fans.

In an error-strewn first half, where their tackling also let them down, the Lions hardly threatened the try line of the home side apart from the one score by fullback Quan Horn after a maul sucked in most of the Italian side's defenders.

Wings Edwill van der Merwe and Maxwane had good runs a few times, but nothing remotely suggested that the Lions will score the spectacular tries they are known for.

Their worst performance came in the tackling department where Benetton penetrated them way too easily in the first half.

The home side's three tries in the first half all came through great interplay by the team, and a bunch of missed tackles by the Lions.

It took the Lions about 20 minutes in the second half to wake up and get their running on like they are known for. They finally strung some good passes together after Benetton went into defensive mode, trying to preserve their lead.

That was just the motivation that the visitors needed.

The Lions' best move of the game came when Tshituka powered over the line after a typical backline move by them where they took the Benetton defenders from one side of the field to the other.

Captain and centre Marius Louw then straightened the line and burst through two defenders which created the gap for Tshituka to go over with three defenders trying to stop him.

Maxwane's try could rival the first one of Tshituka after loose forward Francke Horn burst away from inside his own half, beating a couple of defenders before sending his winger away for the five-pointer.

Flyhalf Mannie Rass switched up the play quite brilliantly and stepped through a couple of defenders to send the powerful Tshituka over the line for his second try.

Those three tries showed what the Lions are capable of when they do get things right.

The Lions had a couple of tumultuous weeks with off-field issues, but this victory overseas will give them confidence ahead of a Challenge Cup play-off with French club Racing92.

After that, two final URC matches at home, against Leinster and Zebre, await them in their bid to secure a place in the knockouts of the competition.


Benetton 28 (21): Tries: Joaquin Riera, Marcus Watson, Siua Maile, Henry Stowers. Conversions: Jacob Umaga (4).

Lions 32 (10): Tries: Quan Horn, Emmanuel Tshituka (2), Rabz Maxwane. Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (3). Penalties: Nohamba (2) Maxwane.


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