Another helter-skelter performance by the Stormers resulted in another loss on their European tour after Benetton successfully kept them out in the dying moments of the game, securing a 20-17 win in Treviso on Saturday.
The Cape side fell to a second successive loss in Europe on Saturday, with Benetton securing a fighting victory to remain unbeaten in the United Rugby Championship (URC).
For a team that needed a win, the Cape side did everything not to secure it. When they had kickable penalties in front of goal, they went for the touchline looking for a try. And although their rolling maul made meters on the night, they needed any possible points coming their way to secure the victory.
Instead, they will now have to wait another week for a chance to get their campaign back on track.
It was another indifferent performance by the Cape side.
They put in a massive defensive shift, especially at the start of the match, but slipped up in the crucial moments. Inaccuracy and wrong decision-making on the attack was the order of the day for the visitors.
They could not get going with the ball in hand, although there were glimpses deep in the first half and early in the second half when they scored two good tries through fullback Warrick Gelant and winger Courtnall Skosan.
The Stormers started with good defense to stave off the initial onslaught from Benetton, and they did well to curb their opponents with solid tackles. In one stanza, the Italians attacked with vigour but were dragged back by defenders, forcing them to kick the ball away.
That is the type of defense that the former URC winners are known for, and it paid off initially as the two sides probed and probed to see where they could penetrate to get points on the board.
While the home side tried running the ball at the Stormers' defence, the visitors were keen to get their rolling mauls going. And they executed them well the chances they could, but Benetton defended it well.
As the two teams exchanged blows on the attack and defence, it looked like a matter of time before one would cave.
And so it happened as a lapse in concentration on their try line, where Gelant failed to dive on a loose ball after a grubber kick brought the first try that Benetton scored right next to the posts.
Flyhalf Tomas Albornoz saw the rush defense shooting up and put a neat little grubber through the Stormers' line, and it allowed inside centre Marco Zanon to fall onto it over the whitewash as Gelant couldn’t get the ball away from him.
Six minutes later, on the half-hour mark, Gelant made up for his error and dotted down for his side to get them on the scoreboard and when hooker Scarra Ntubeni scored off a driving maul shortly after their first five-pointer.
Gelant's try also came off a kick, this time a cross-field one by flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis that Skosan tapped back. This came at a time when the Stormers applied plenty of pressure on the attack, but just could not add a finishing touch to their adventurous play.
Benetton would have the last say in the first half, though, as fullback Rhyno Smith put over a brilliant drop goal that proved to be the three-point difference for his side.
Both sides managed to score a try apiece in the second half, but the missed conversions by Du Plessis, who only converted one of their three tries, cost the Stormers as well.
The Cape side desperately needed the win to keep the hopes of winning three out of their four matches on tour alive, but now they will face a tough battle to win one of their final two games overseas.
It's not the start to their campaign they hoped for and they desperately need to turn things around if they want to stay amongst the top teams in the competition.
Stormers 17 — Tries: Warrick Gelant, Scarra Ntubeni, Courtnall Skosan. Conversion: Jean-Luc du Plessis.
Benetton 20 — Tries: Marco Zanon, Allesandro Izekor. Conversions: Tomas Albornoz, Jacob Umaga. Penalty: Albornoz. Drop goal: Rhyno Smith.