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Late Burton try does it for Treviso

The Newport Gwent Dragons became the third team to fall to Magners League newcomers, Benetton Treviso, as a late converted try from Chris Burton ensured a third home victory for the Italians.

The Scarlets, Leinster and now the Dragons. The new season is barely a month old and already three teams have tasted defeat at the hands of Benetton Treviso.

Treviso have managed to transfer their domestic form onto the Magners League stage, already making Stadio di Monigo one of the most difficult places to visit in the competition.

In this end-to-end tie, the Dragons drew first blood through the boot of Matthew Jones before Treviso responded with a 13-point surge, the highlight being a 31st minute try from Roberto Barbieri.

Tries from Scott Morgan and Phil Price got the Welsh region back level by the 65-minute mark, only for Treviso fly-half Burton to delight the home crowd with a late converted try.

Recent loan signing Tom Cheeseman made his full debut for the Dragons, joining Tom Riley in midfield, and there was a first start of the season for number 8 Andrew Coombs.

Centre Ashley Smith made a welcome return to the matchday squad, earning a spot on the replacements bench after a six month lay-off due to a serious foot injury.

But Dragons captain Tom Willis was a late withdrawal from the starting line-up, with Lloyd Burns taking over from him.

Coached by former Newport fly-half Franco Smith, Treviso handed league debuts to Italian international Ludovico Nitoglia, on the right wing, and former England Sevens captain Andy Vilk in the centre. South African Tobie Botes made the switch from scrum half to full-back.

Botes missed a second minute penalty as Treviso made a strong start, their forwards and backs linking well against a somewhat tentative Dragons side.

The visitors' fortunes improved when Treviso scrum half Fabio Semenzato was yellow carded for going offside, and a minute later Jones rifled over the opening penalty.

Burton struck a drop goal – his fourth of the campaign – in response, and Treviso enjoyed a period of dominance after Dragons lock Robert Sidoli was sin-binned.

Botes was successful with his second penalty attempt, and as Semenzato rejoined the fray, Smith's charges worked Barbieri over for the game's first try. It came off a solid lineout drive, and Botes added the conversion for a 13-3 scoreline.

The Dragons replied with an unconverted try, two minutes before half-time. Winger Aled Brew also made it over, but lock Morgan made certain of the score by scrambling over from close range.

Neither side could muster much during a listless third quarter, during which Botes and Jones missed a penalty apiece and try scorer Barbieri was sent to the sin-bin.

Chasing their first away league win since November last year, the Dragons squared things up with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining.

Loosehead prop Price touched down following a well-executed maul by the Dragons forwards. Jones had the opportunity to nudge Paul Turner's side in front, but his conversion attempt was off target.

The game was finely balanced and both coaches looked to their benches in a strength-sapping conclusion. Botes failed with a 70th minute penalty shot, but the Brisbane-born Burton, who has four Italy caps to his name, pulled it out of the bag for Treviso.

Influential replacements Brendan Williams and Alessandro Zanni were involved in the build-up, as was centre Ezio Galon, as the space was created for Burton to cross for the match-winning try, which Botes converted.

Having lost at home to the Cardiff Blues last weekend, this was an important victory for the Italians who had won just one of their five most recent encounters with Welsh sides.

This was a third straight defeat for the injury-ravaged Dragons, and they will have to regroup quickly for next weekend's European opener against Glasgow Warriors.

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