The late rally was not enough for them to register their first victory of the season.
The Isuzu Southern Kings showed their intent in the first half with some strong running and solid pressure, but they were forced to settle for three penalty goals by flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis as they battled to break through the Italian defence.
Benetton, in turn, made better use of their point-scoring chances, as they touched down twice and slotted over a penalty goal – with flyhalf Ian Keatley scoring 10 of their 15 points in the first stanza – to take a six-point lead going into the break.
They sealed their first victory of the season in the second half as they added three tries to take their tally for the match to five, which was enough to keep them ahead on the scoreboard despite leaking three late tries.
Catrakilis put the first points on the board compliments of a penalty goal in the sixth minute after some good pressure by the Isuzu Southern Kings, but this was cancelled out minutes later as Benetton winger Angelo Esposito gathered the ball at pace and dashed through two defenders to power his way over the tryline.
The hosts’ Toa Halafihi (No 8) received a yellow card in the 16th minute for infringing at a ruck, and the Port Elizabeth outfit took advantage of this with Catrakilis kicking his second penalty goal to reduce their deficit to one point.
Benetton stretched their lead once again with Keatley kicking a penalty goal in the 31st minute, and the Isuzu Southern Kings followed this up with some enterprising play, which saw them cross the tryline, but they were denied a five-pointer as the ball was held up.
Catrakilis kicked his third penalty goal soon after, but again, this was cancelled out as Keatley crossed the chalk on the stroke of halftime thanks to some great running and support play by the hosts for a 15-9 halftime lead.
Benetton made a strong statement minutes into the second half as Ratuva Tavuyara (winger) took advantage of an overlap out wide to dive in for their third try, which inflated their lead to 22-9.
Ignacio Brex (centre) scored their fourth try as they spread the ball wide once again, and they inflicted further damage in the 60th minute as Federico Ruzza (replacement lock) touched down from a charge-down.
The Isuzu Southern Kings struck back with three back-to-back tries compliments of Rossouw de Klerk (replacement prop), Christopher Hollis (winger) and Bobby de Wee (lock) – two of which were from pick-and-go’s and one a fantastic pass out wide - but it was a case of too little too late as the Isuzu Southern Kings found themselves settling for a 36-30 defeat.
Benetton 36 (15) – Tries: Angelo Esposito, Ian Keatley, Ratuva Tavuyara, Ignacio Brex, Federico Ruzza. Conversions: Ian Keatley (3), Antonio Rizzi. Penalty Goals: Ian Keatley (1).
Isuzu Southern Kings 30 (9) – Tries: Rossouw de Klerk, Christopher Hollis, Bobby de Wee. Conversions: Siya Masuku (3). Penalty Goals: Demetri Catrakilis (3).