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Can Benetton finish unbeaten run with Rainbow Cup title

AT the start of the season very few would have predicted that Benetton would be featured in a Guinness PRO14 competition final. They had a terrible league championship but it appears that they have found renewed form and they could complete a remarkable underdog story when they welcome the Vodacom Bulls to Treviso for the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup final on tomorrow. No doubt fate dealt them a deck of trumps. Munster messed up at home to Connacht and when it looked as if the van Graan side would slip in to the decider (a bonus point win away to Zebre and the Ospreys preventing Benetton from taking points in their final game would have sufficed), the Italians were gifted four points when their Covid 19 related game in Neath was cancelled).
The Italian outfit are the only unbeaten side across both sections of the competition – a stunning turnaround after their winless 2020-21 Guinness PRO14 campaign.
The Bulls finished eight points clear at the top of the South African standings after losing only one of their six Rainbow Cup fixtures, earning their place in the long-awaited first cross-hemisphere clash of the competition.
With the Bulls – along with the DHL Stormers, Cell C Sharks and Emirates Lions – joining the new United Rugby Championship full-time from next season, all eyes will be on Treviso to see how the sides compare.
The breakdown
Benetton fly-half Paolo Garbisi ended the league stage as joint-top scorer in the northern section with 52 while he also successfully kicked more penalties than any other player (10).
Jayden Hayward was top for offloads (7) and Toa Halafihi, who also chipped in with three tries, was the stats leader for turnovers won (7).
The Bulls’ run to the final has also been driven by a number of impressive individual displays across the park.
Morne Steyn is the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA’s top points scorer (53) while Stravino Jacobs and Madosh Tambwe lead the way for clean breaks (11) and defenders beaten (27) respectively.
Marco van Staden tops the charts for tackles (76) and turnovers won (6) and Johan Grobbelaar’s record of 65 lineouts won puts him 23 clear of his closest challenger.

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