Negri and Morisi star as Benetton make history

Italian internationals Sebastian Negri and Luca Morisi both scored as Benetton Rugby defeated rivals Zebre to become the first Italian side to reach the Guinness PRO14 Final Series.

Italian internationals Sebastian Negri and Luca Morisi both scored as Benetton Rugby defeated rivals Zebre to become the first Italian side to reach the Guinness PRO14 Final Series.

A host of Guinness Six Nations stars were on show in the derby day showdown at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, which ended with Benetton taking the spoils 25-11.

Elsewhere, there were a number of Wales’ Grand Slam-winning players in action in ‘Judgement Day’ as Ospreys edged out Cardiff Blues to secure a Champions Cup play-off spot.

Scarlets were also stunned by Dragons in the other game at the Principality Stadium, while Glasgow Warriors defeated Edinburgh to confirm they will have a home semi-final.

Tension was high in Parma as Benetton bid to make history by reaching the Final Series for the first time and, unsurprisingly, their nerves were on show in the opening quarter.

Zebre, who featured the likes of Edoardo Padovani, Andrea Lovotti and Mattia Bellini in their ranks, took advantage of this as they dominated territory and put the visitors under pressure.

But against the run of play, a simple line-out routine ended with Italian fly-half Tommaso Allan chipping over the Zebre defence for international teammate Morisi to dot down.

Allan converted the extras to give Benetton a 12-6 lead at the break and added a penalty soon after the restart, before Negri intercepted Jayden Hayward’s looped pass to score on the hour.

Bellini bagged a late consolation for the hosts but it was too little, too late to prevent Benetton from booking their place in the Guinness PRO14 Final Series with a bonus-point victory, a trip to Thomond Park to take on Munster next week awaits them.

Welsh fly-half Gareth Anscombe scored a try and kicked 13 points for Cardiff Blues but could not prevent Ospreys from sealing a Champions Cup play-off place on Judgement Day.

In the winner-takes-all clash, Grand Slam-winner Alun Wyn Jones and George North returned for the Ospreys for the first time since they featured for Wales against Ireland on Super Saturday.

But it was Anscombe who took the early initiative against the side he will join next season, scoring a try and amassing 18 points to put Blues in control against Ospreys.

His efforts ultimately proved to be in vain, though, as Sam Davies slotted a late penalty – following tries from Cory Allen and Nicky Smith – to secure fourth place in Conference A.

Earlier in the day, more Welsh heroes returned to the Principality Stadium as Jonathan Davies and Ken Owens lined-up for Scarlets to face Dragons stars Elliot Dee and Ross Moriarty.

And despite both Gareth Davies and Jonathan Davies getting on the scoresheet for Scarlets, they were narrowly beaten 34-32 by the Dragons in the opening Judgement Day clash.

Glasgow Warriors secured a home Guinness PRO14 semi-final with a bonus-point victory over fellow Scottish side Edinburgh, with several Guinness Six Nations stars in action on both sides.

Sam Johnson and Ali Price, who both played for Scotland in their record-breaking 38-38 draw against England in Round 5, touched down for Warriors in the opening 20 minutes.

Adam Hastings converted both tries, as well as kicking four conversions, while Tommy Seymour completed the scoring with a try to complete a dominant bonus-point win.

Edinburgh had Darcy Graham, Henry Pyrgos, Stuart McInally and Hamish Watson in their starting line-up, but could only muster a late consolation try through Duhan van der Merwe.

The result at Scotstoun Stadium meant Warriors finished top of Conference A, ahead of Irish province Munster, as they booked their place in the knockout stages in style.