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'Munster made a lot of noise': Benetton brush off fuss over Rainbow Cup final

By PA

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Benetton head coach Kieran Crowley hopes his team can give rugby fans in Italy something to celebrate in the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup final on Saturday. While the majority of the country focus on the football team at the European Championship, the Treviso-based outfit are looking to cap their fairytale story with the perfect ending.

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After failing to pick up a single victory in the 16-game regular season, Benetton have turned it around to triumph in all four of the Rainbow Cup fixtures they have played and secure a place in the north versus south final against South African side the Bulls.

“Life is life but you have to have some focus. You have family and you need something outside of that,” said Crowley. “If your sporting team or the sport you are interested in is going well, it gives you something to look forward to and hold on to.

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“Hopefully we have done that from a rugby side of things and we can continue it this week. It will be a massive challenge, but hopefully the people who have supported us through the down times get something to smile about.”

There will also be fans back inside Stadio di Monigo, Benetton’s home, with 1,250 supporters able to watch the end-of-season cup competition final. After no wins during the PRO14 campaign, Crowley’s side kicked off this tournament with a 46-19 success over Glasgow before back-to-back derby victories over Zebre raised the unlikely prospect of them reaching the Rainbow Cup final.

When Connacht were seen off, the dream was almost a reality and while the postponement of their scheduled clash with the Ospreys (due to an outbreak of Covid-19 cases at the Welsh region) confirmed Benetton would top the northern section, the former All Black rejected any grumbles from second-placed Munster.

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Crowley, who will take over as Italy head coach after this fixture, said: “We were disappointed that Ospreys game didn’t go ahead but that was the way it is. Munster made a lot of noise about it but in the end, they lost to Connacht. We beat Connacht and beat (third-placed) Glasgow, so that goes your next couple of teams down.

“It is not ideal because we haven’t played everyone, but these were the rules and the circumstances. We thoroughly think we deserve to be there. Well, we know we deserve to be there because we have played some pretty good rugby.

“Are we the most consistent side in the northern hemisphere and PRO14? No, we’re not, but we have got into this position for this specific competition and we’re really proud of it, so we will go out there and give everything we’ve got.”

BENETTON: 15. Jayden Hayward; 14. Edoardo Padovani, 13. Ignacio Brex, 12. Marco Zanon, 11. Monty Ioane; 10. Paolo Garbisi, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage (capt); 1. Thomas Gallo, 2. Corniel Els, 3. Marco Riccioni, 4. Niccolo Cannone, 5. Federico Ruzza, 6. Sebastian Negri, 7. Michele Lamaro, 8. Toa Halafihi. Reps: 16. Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17. Ivan Nemer, 18. Filippo Alongi, 19. Irne Herbst, 20. Manuel Zuliani, 21. Marco Barbini, 22. Callum Braley, 23. Ratuva Tavuyara.

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BULLS: 15. David Kriel; 14. Madosh Tambwe, 13. Marco van Vuren, 12. Cornal Henricks, 11. Stravino Jacobs; 10. Chris Smit, 9. Ivan van Zyl; 1. Gerhard Steenkamp, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Walt Steenkamp, 5. Jan Uys, 6. Nizaam Carr, 7. Ruan Nortje, 8. Marcell Coetzee. Reps: 16. Schalk Erasmus, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Lizo Gqoboka, 19. Janco Swanepoel, 20. Muller Uys, 21. Zack Burger, 22. Clinton Swart, 23. Gio Aplon.

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'Munster made a lot of noise': Benetton brush off fuss over Rainbow Cup final

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