Benetton Treviso head coach Franco Smith breathed a sigh of relief after watching his side break their Heineken Cup duck with a 30-26 win over French heavyweights Biarritz.
Smith’s side have been in impressive form in the RaboDirect PRO12 with last week’s 15-13 win over Connacht in Galway launching them into the top half of the table.
However it’s been more of a struggle in Europe where they had not picked up a win in two years before the weekend, having been denied by the Ospreys and Dan Biggar’s late penalty three weeks ago in a 26-26 draw.
But against the Top 14 giants, who had looked well-set in Europe despite a horror start to their domestic season, Treviso were able to hold on for a famous win thanks to three tries from Michele Rizzo, Robert Barbieri and Cornelius van Zyl as well as 15 points from Kris Burton.
And Smith revealed that he was delighted with his side after they hung on, despite letting Biarritz back to within a score having led 27-12 at one point.
He said: “We had to break the ice of winning in the Heineken Cup – we had not won a game in two years – so this really was a huge win for the club and the game in Italy.
“It demonstrated that Italian sides can be competitive at this level and that we are in the Heineken Cup on merit. Now we have to keep on working hard to maintain the momentum built up from the draw against the Ospreys and this win.
“I am sure we will face a different Biarritz team in Round Four over there and, as they are a team with their backs against the wall that will make them even more dangerous.
“All credit to Biarritz, they are a top team and they tried to lift the pace and force penalties, and they certainly showed their hunger for success.
“But we hung on well after leading 27-12 and demonstrated how much they want to win. The determination of all the players was behind this win.”
“That will do so much for Italian rugby.”