Match Report

Newcastle Falcons - 18

Benetton - 57

Friday 12th Jan 2024 | KO 20:00 | Kingston Park

Newcastle Falcons bowed out of the EPCR Challenge Cup on Friday as Benetton Rugby took all five points from the Kingston Park clash.

The in-form Italians are sitting second-top of the URC and led 22-13 at the interval, having run in three first-half tries.

Newcastle began the game at pace and led inside five minutes when Brett Connon slotted a simple penalty from in front – a line-break from Elliott Obatoyinbo forcing an infringement which saw winger Ignacio Mendy sent to the sin bin.

The Falcons hit double figures in the 11th minute when Argentina tight-head Eduardo Bello crashed over from a close-range pick and go, with the Pumas forward taking quick ruck ball after a burst from fellow prop Adam Brocklebank.

Benetton got themselves off the mark five minutes later when a penalty was kicked to the right corner, and even with Newcastle repelling the maul threat the Italians managed to work the ball to their backs – Tomas Albornoz scoring on a diagonal line from 10 metres out.

The fly-half fired wide with his attempted conversion, but he was on the money from the left touchline four minutes later after Onisi Ratave had scored their second try – the winger accepting an offload following an outstanding cover tackle from Iwan Stephens.

Newcastle were unperturbed and stormed back into the lead on 25 minutes when Connon tamed the swirling wind to drill over a 42-metre penalty, but a see-saw passage of play saw visiting centre Tommaso Menoncello cut infield to score Benetton’s third try just before the half-hour.

Albornoz converted and added a further three with a penalty from in front of the posts – Benetton’s 22-13 lead remaining in tact at half-time as Connon fell just short of the crossbar with a penalty from the centre spot.

Benetton secured their four-try bonus point three minutes into the second half when Ratave came infield from his left-wing perch and ghosted over, Albornoz adding the simple conversion.

Opposite winger Mendy added their fifth when he collected a looping pass for a converted score in the right corner, and centre Menoncello glided in for number six just before the hour mark.

Newcastle at least showed some late fight, picking up their second try when prop Murray McCallum powered over from a hard carry in the left corner after a penalty was kicked to touch.

Benetton hit the half-century with seven minutes to spare when replacement Alessandro Izekor drove over from a close-range ruck, and there was time for one more when Jacob Umaga scored from the last play.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Cameron Hutchison (Louie Johnson, 64), 11 Iwan Stephens (Tom Penny, 34), 10 Brett Connon, 9 Josh Barton (Hugh O’Sullivan, 51); 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Jamie Blamire (Bryan Byrne, 63), 3 Eduardo Bello (Murray McCallum, 45), 4 John Hawkins (Freddie Lockwood, 55), 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Pedro Rubiolo, 7 Guy Pepper (Sam Cross, 55), 8 Callum Chick (captain).

Scorers – Tries: Eduardo Bello, Murray McCallum. Conversions: Brett Connon. Penalties: Brett Connon 2.

Benetton Rugby: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Ignacio Mendy, 13 Tommaso Menoncello, 12 Ignacio Brex, 11 Onisi Ratave, 10 Tomas Albornoz (Jacob Umaga, 54), 9 Andy Uren (Alessandro Izekor, 51); 1 Thomas Gallo, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 3 Giosué Zilocchi (Tiziano Pasquali, 56), 4 Niccolò Cannone, 5 Eli Snyman (captain, Federico Ruzza, 64), 6 Sebastian Negri, 7 Manuel Zuliani, 8 Lorenzo Cannone.

Scorers – Tries: Tomas Albornoz, Onisi Ratave 2, Tommaso Menoncello 2, Ignacio Mendy, Alessandro Izekor, Jacob Umaga. Conversions: Tomas Albornoz 3, Jacob Umaga 3. Penalties: Tomas Albornoz.

Referee: Tual Trainini (France).Attendance: 3,602.