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United Rugby Championship: Benetton 18-14 Connacht - Last-gasp try gives Italian side victory

Ignacio Mendy celebrates with team-mates after scoring a try
Ignacio Mendy celebrates with team-mates after scoring a try [Inpho]

United Rugby Championship: Benetton v Connacht

Benetton (10) 18

Tries: Mendy, Izekor Cons: Umaga Pens: Umaga 2

Connacht (7) 14

Tries: Murray, Prendergast Cons: Carty 2

Connacht suffered heartache as a last-gasp try from Alessandro Izekor gave Benetton an 18-14 win over the Irish province in Saturday's URC game.

Ignacio Mendy's score helped the hosts to a 10-7 half-time lead, with Niall Murray scoring a try for the visitors.

Cian Prendergast's late touchdown saw Connacht lead for the first time but Izekor's intervention ensured Benetton came out on top after a tight contest.

The win boosts the Italian side's hopes of making the end-of-season play-offs.

Benetton went into the game on the back of three consecutive URC defeats at the hands of Leinster, Glasgow and Scarlets while Connacht lost 38-14 at home to Lions last weekend.

Both teams boasted 33 points from their first 12 matches ahead of the encounter at Stadio Comunale di Monigo.

The home side were the first to get the scoreboard rolling as a flowing move saw Alessandro Garbisi pass to Jacob Umaga, who in turn found Mendy, who went over for the try.

Fly-half Umaga converted and was then successful with a superb kick from distance to extend Benetton's advantage.

Despite playing into the wind, Connacht enjoyed their fair share of possession in the first half and were rewarded when second row Niall Murray scored their opening try with the interval looming.

Carty kicked the ball into the corner when the westerners were awarded a penalty and after the lineout Murray applied the finish, Carty's conversion from close range reducing his side's deficit to three points at the break.

Carty was off-target with a penalty early in the second period and the Irish province then stood firm during a period of pressure from their Italian opponents.

It took almost 30 minutes of that second half before either side could register the next score, Umaga kicking his second penalty to make it 13-7.

Connacht responded however with Prendergast's try, Carty adding the extras to edge their team ahead.

Umaga's subsequent late drop goal attempt went marginally wide but there was late drama as Izekor charged down the wing and touched down to snatch victory for Benetton.

Benetton: Rhyno Smith; Ignacio Mendy, Tommaso Menoncello, Ignacio Brex, Onisi Ratave; Jacob Umaga, Alessandro Garbisi; Thomas Gallo, Giacomo Nicotera, Giosuè Zilocchi, Niccolò Cannone, Eli Snyman capt, Alessandro Izekor, Michele Lamaro, Toa Halafihi.

Replacements: Bautista Bernasconi, Mirco Spagnolo, Tiziano Pasquali, Federico Ruzza, Lorenzo Cannone, Andy Uren, Tomas Albornoz, Malakai Fekitoa

Connacht: Tiernan O'Halloran; Diarmuid Kilgallen, David Hawkshaw, Cathal Forde, Andrew Smith; Jack Carty capt, Michael McDonald; Jordan Duggan, Dave Heffernan, Jack Aungier, Niall Murray, Joe Joyce, Cian Prendergast, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Eoin de Buitléar, Denis Buckley, Sam Illo, Darragh Murray, Jarrad Butler, Colm Reilly, Shane Jennings, Shayne Bolton.