Newport Gwent Dragons 32 Benetton Treviso 33
Benetton Treviso secured a RaboDirect PRO12 victory on Welsh soil as they beat Newport Gwent Dragons for the first time at Rodney Parade since 2007 in a match which turned white hot in the last 25 minutes.
Treviso came from behind, with tries from flanker Alessandro Zanni, full-back Luke McLean, outside-half Kris Burton and centre Alberto Sgarbi, with Burton kicking 13 further points to add a bonus point to their tally.
It was a reasonable game in the first half but became a thriller towards the end. The Dragons got two bonus points as they finished one point adrift of their opponents and also scored four tries, with wing Aled Brew getting two and others coming from number eight Toby Faletau and centre Adam Hughes.
Hughes and stand-off Lewis Robling shared the kicking points.
The Dragons came out of the blocks quickest as Robling landed the first of his two opening-period penalties from 48 metres before Burton replied in kind soon after.
A neat move inside the Treviso 22 saw eight-cap Welsh wing Brew go over for the first of his touchdowns after he was given a pass 10 metres from the line by Hughes.
But, much to the delight of former Newport full-back Franco Smith, now coach of Treviso, the Italians made the Dragons pay for mistakes in defence.
And it was a well-executed move down the left from halfway that gave Treviso their opening try as, from a turnover, the ball went through a couple of pairs of hands before wing Brendan Williams dashed down the touchline and, 10 metres from the line, threw a pass to supporting flanker Alessandro Zanni to go over.
Burton missed the conversion but put Treviso into the lead for the first time moments later from 25 metres with a penalty.
Robling added his second shot before Brew made Sgarbi pay for a loose pass just inside the home half by intercepting and racing 52 metres to the line.
Hughes converted and, with the clock ticking over 40 minutes, the Dragons had their eyes on the half-time rest.
Treviso did not, though, and hit the home team with a sucker punch as Burton, Zanni and centre Tommaso Iannone combined to put McLean over for a try in the corner which Burton converted to level the score.
It was a bitter pill for the Dragons to swallow as they looked for only their second league victory over the green-hooped Italians.
But the sweet taste returned after 50 minutes when Six Nations man of the tournament Dan Lydiate ran left to put centre Ashley Smith away. He passed out to Faletau who danced past an attempted tackle to go over unopposed.
The action floodgates had opened as the game swung into serious action.
Burton charged down an attempted Robling clearance to run 40 metres and score. His conversion hit the post but he put Treviso back in front with a drop goal after 67 minutes when home flanker Lewis Evans was sin-binned for killing a ruck.
Treviso suffered their own disciplinary problems as both prop Michele Rizzo and replacement Fabio Semenzato were binned.
By then, though, Sgarbi had intercepted replacement half-back Jason Tovey’s woeful pass on halfway for the bonus-point try that Burton crucially converted.
It put Treviso eight points clear and, despite Hughes getting a breakaway try that he converted with two minutes left, there was not enough time to steal the game for the Welsh region.