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With just points difference splitting Benetton Rugby and Harlequins, their Pool 5 clash in Treviso on Saturday is set to be one of the closest matches in Round 3 of this season’s Challenge Cup.
- Benetton Rugby and Harlequins have never met in the Challenge Cup, although they did clash twice in the Europe’s top flight in 1999/2000 with the Italians winning both matches.
- Harlequins’ two defeats to Benetton in 1999/2000 remain their only losses to Italian opposition in European competition, winning six in a row since then with each victory coming by 30+ points.
- Harlequins have won 13 of their last 14 home games in the Challenge Cup, their only defeat in that run coming against Edinburgh in 2016/17.
- Only Northampton Saints (100%) have a better goalkicking success rate than Harlequins this season (90%), while Benetton have the worst rate from the tee (64%).
- Harlequins’ Semi Kunatani has made 24/24 tackles this season, the most of any player who is yet to miss one.
🗣 "Although it was good to get the win, we've got to look to improve in the coming games"
📽 Winger @_gabs11 looks ahead to the return of our European Rugby Challenge Cup campaign against Benetton #COYQ pic.twitter.com/alwnhO69sI
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) December 6, 2018
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A last minute Benetton Rugby try finally settled this close fought Pool 5 game in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
The outcome was in the balance with Benetton holding a 21-18 advantage before Australian winger Monty Ioane dived over to finally see off the Harlequins challenge.
The Italian outfit led 18-12 at the half-time break largely to the efforts of winger Luca Sperandio who went over for a brace of touchdowns with fly-half Ian McKinley converting one and adding two penalties.
#BENvHAR 6' [7-5] Bel varco trovato da Hayward che dentro i 22 avversari serve Sperandio mandandolo di fatto in meta! McKinley trasforma pic.twitter.com/MRK1am0Z8A
— Benetton Rugby 🦁 (@BenettonRugby) December 8, 2018
Harlequins had a dream start with flanker Alex Dombrandt finishing off some good approach work to score a try after only two minutes and he was on hand to add a second 20 minutes later with fly-half James Lang converting.
Replacement Marcus Smith landed three second half penalties to keep Harlequins well in contention but McKinley was on target to edge Benetton three points ahead before Ioane landed the decisive blow.
The sides meet again in the eagerly-awaited return at the Twickenham Stoop next Saturday.
23' TRY ! And it is Dombrandt AGAIN! BEN 10 – 10 HAR #COYQ #BENvHAR pic.twitter.com/TAHSi2UA2T
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) December 8, 2018
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