Guinness PRO14 Saturday wrap: Benetton shock Leinster, Zebre and Cardiff Blues victories
Last Updated: 14/04/18 11:35pm
A round-up of Saturday's PRO14 fixtures as Benetton stunned Conference B leaders Leinster at the RDS, Cardiff Blues clinched a Champions Cup place and Zebre pulled off a superb comeback win.
Earlier on Saturday, Edinburgh destroyed Scarlets 52-14 in front of the Sky Sports cameras, moving them ever closer to a PRO14 playoff place and Champions Cup qualification.
Here's how the rest of Saturday's PRO14 games panned out...
Leinster 15-17 Benetton
Benetton stunned error-strewn Leinster as they made history by winning for the first time in Dublin, triumphing 17-15 at the RDS in the Guinness PRO14.
Second-half tries from Federico Ruzza and man of the match Tommaso Allan, adding to Luca Bigi's early maul effort, ensured it was a famous night for the Italians who set a new club record for wins in a championship season with their 11th success.
First-half Leinster tries from Richardt Strauss and Barry Daly had the Irish province leading 12-5, but they only mustered a single penalty from Joey Carbery in the second half as they fell to only their second defeat in 38 home games stretching back to December 2015.
With Scarlets, their Champions Cup semi-final opponents next weekend, also losing on Saturday in Edinburgh, Leo Cullen's men are still set to finish top of Conference B and have a home semi-final. They are five points clear, have more wins and a much greater scoring difference.
Handling errors blighted the hosts' attempts to build momentum up to and past halfway, and with Nasi Manu, Marco Fuser and Cherif Traore prominent in an ultra-physical pack, Benetton stood firm to draw back within a point of fourth-placed Ulster in the race for the Champions Cup play-off spot.
Zebre 34-32 Dragons
Jared Rosser scored a first-half hat-trick but still ended up on the losing side as the Dragons surrendered a 16-point interval lead to crash to a 34-32 Guinness PRO14 defeat at the hands of Zebre.
Italy fly-half Carlo Canna converted his own try with nine minutes remaining to complete Zebre's fightback and earn the hosts victory in a match played at the Stadio Fattori in L'Aquila, rather than at the Italian side's usual home in Parma.
The Dragons still had chances after Canna's score to snatch a dramatic win for themselves but, after having a late try ruled out by the TMO, they saw Arwel Robson's last-gasp penalty fall short.
That came at the end of an eventful encounter which saw the Dragons, seeking their first win in the competition since September, recover from 7-0 down to establish a 26-10 lead at the break on the back of Rosser's try treble and a Charlie Davies score.
Zebre rallied though, with Tommaso Castello, Tommaso D'Apice and Johan Meyer crossing in the second half to help trim the Dragons' advantage to 32-27, before Canna's decisive score settled the encounter.
Kings 12-45 Cardiff Blues
Cardiff Blues clinched European Champions Cup rugby for next season after a seven-try rout of Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth.
Hooker Kirby Myhill scored two tries with Josh Turnbull, Seb Davies, Blaine Scully, Willis Halaholo and Alex Cuthbert also crossing the whitewash for the Welsh region. Cardiff fly-half Jarrod Evans kicked five conversions in the 45-12 victory.
The Kings, bottom of Conference B, scored twice, with tries for Ntabeni Dukisa and Lindokuhle Welemu, with Masixole Banda slotting one conversion.
The victory for the Blues followed Ospreys' defeat to Ulster which meant any win over the South African side would have been good enough to secure a top-four finish.