Edinburgh were edged out 29-26 in Treviso this evening as Benetton grabbed a last-gasp winner in an open and physical pre-season friendly.
Mike Blair’s side held a 10-12 half-time lead thanks to tries from Chris Dean and Ben Muncaster, however the hosts fought back after the break.
Holding a numerical advantage, with Sam Skinner and Jamie Ritchie both sent to the bin, Benetton took a 22-12 lead heading into the final 20 minutes following two quickfire scores.
Despite a courageous comeback, which saw Jack Blain and Nick Haining cross the whitewash to give Edinburgh a late advantage, Benetton struck in the 80th minute with a go-ahead penalty try.
Edinburgh finished the game with 14 men as Bill Mata – making his comeback after 9 months out through injury – was shown a late yellow card.
Both sides showed the upmost respect to the passing of Her Majesty the Queen with a pre-match minute’s silence
As a further mark of respect, the Edinburgh squad and management wore black armbands throughout the contest to acknowledge the sad passing.
The match began at a ferocious pace with both sides testing each other’s back-three positioning with an array of box kicks and fast-paced chases.
Edinburgh had the first half-chances of the match. The first – after Benetton looked to move it wide at pace – came as Matt Currie intercepted before being dragged down in the hosts’ 22m.
The second came after an outside break from Ben Muncaster who burst down the far touchline before offloading to the supporting Ben Vellacott. The scrum-half looked to be racing in the corner, but the ball slipped just out of his grasp.
Edinburgh started to turn the screw and following a string of Benetton penalties, Mike Blair’s side broke the deadlock with 14 minutes on the clock.
From a well secured lineout drive on the Benetton 22m, the ball was move to the right before Vellacott broke back down the blindside.
After juking a man, the scrum-half offloaded to the supported to Chris Dean who had the easy task of dotting down in the corner [0-5]. Jaco van der Walt would miss the resulting touchline conversion.
Benetton would strike back almost immediately after 16 minutes, and it came from a penalty conceded straight from the restart.
With a strong lineout drive secured, hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi broke free, parried a would-be defender and powered over from only metres out to level the match [5-5].
There was little between the two sides in the ten minutes that followed the Benetton leveller, however two flashes of defence brilliance from Jamie Ritchie – who looked back to his best at the breakdown – were a particular highlight for the capital side who looked to capitalise on Italian sloppiness at the breakdown.
Moving into the final ten minutes of the half, Edinburgh kept their foot on the gas and with Benetton committing an array of breakdown penalties, lock Federico Ruzza was eventually sent to the bin.
Mike Blair’s side soon capitalised on their numerical advantage. With the pack gaining ground, the ball was moved swiftly to Muncaster who twisted his way over the whitewash on 29 minutes. Van der Walt added the extras. [5-12]
With their tails up, Edinburgh moved the ball with confidence. Matt Currie hit an explosive line in the 14 channel and could have offloaded for another score.
Benetton maintained a physical edge in defence however, and with Edinburgh caught offside inside their own half, the hosts looked to add another three points to their tally, however Leonardo Marin was once again wide from the tee.
The hosts would hit back before the break however. With 41 minutes on the clock and the ball secured via a tidy lineout drive, hooker Lucchesi once again broke free to grab his second score of the match [10-12].
With Marin missing the resulting conversion, Edinburgh held a 10-12 lead at the break.
You could hardly tell it was pre-season as both sides started the match with continued intensity.
Muncaster and Ritchie battled for every loose ball, while Currie did well to guard his wide channel.
Benetton turned the screw up front however and soon Ritchie and summer signing Skinner were booth sent to the bin for repeat infringements at the breakdown with the hosts knocking at the door.
The Italians took the lead shortly after on 50 minutes. A slick handling move freed up the spare man and winger Eduardo Padovani finished. Marin converted to make it 17-12.
Benetton added another only minutes later following a sloppy Edinburgh lineout on their own 22m.
With numbers out wide, the ball was shipped to replacement winger Onisi Ratave who touched down in the corner. [22-12]
Edinburgh response was emphatic however, and after Benetton saw their replacement tighthead sent to the bin for a clumsy breakdown penalty, Blain touched down out wide with a powerful and accurate finish.
With replacement 10 Savala nailing the touchline conversion it was 22-19.
Edinburgh were now in a confident mood and with replacement scrum-half Henry Pyrgos pulling the string, the capital pack were providing front foot ball.
And it would be a forward who gave Edinburgh a deserved lead at Stadio Monigo.
With the big men creeping towards the Benetton whitewash with a series of pick-and-goes, replacement Nick Haining went himself for a quickfire score under the sticks. [22-24].
Savala once again converted to make it a four-point game with only minutes remaining.
Benetton, however, so often strike late at home and the hosts worked the ball up field, before winning a penalty on half-way which was nudged into the corner.
With the Italian’s pack gaining momentum, and the clock in the red, the referee awarded the penalty try – as replacement Mata was shown a yellow card – giving Benetton a last-gasp victory in Treviso.
Benetton scorers: Tries; Lucchesi , Padovani, Ratave, penalty try Conversions; Marin
Edinburgh Rugby scorers: Tries; Dean, Muncaster, Blain, Haininig Conversions; Van der Walt, Savala 
Scoring order: 0-5; 5-5; 5-10; 5-12; 10-12; HT; 15-12; 17-12; 22-12; 22-17; 22-19; 22-24; 22-26; 27-26; 29-26 FT
Kick-off 5:00 pm