O'Mahony double can't mask familiar failings
Treviso 5-28 Munster
When Munster arrived in Italy on Saturday morning, they did so with the faintest hope of advancing to the quarter-finals, but come kick-off yesterday afternoon, other results meant that their hopes were extinguished, much like they realistically were in Paris three weeks ago.
Drawing Treviso in your pool generally means taking 10 from 10 points and although Munster stuck to that part of the bargain, the damage had already been done in what was another hugely disappointing campaign.
Just like they did in Limerick in round one, Munster limped their way to a bonus-point win over the hapless Italians but what was more concerning yesterday was the fact that the shackles and indeed the pressure was completely off Anthony Foley's side and yet the problems that have hindered them all season still lingered.
Time and time again they forced the final pass when in ideal try-scoring positions, while the repeated sight of the Treviso pack frog-marching Munster back was of grave concern.
Treviso, who are by some distance the worst side in the competition, finished the campaign without a single point and have now lost 25 on the bounce.
"It was a bit scrappy at times, but I thought we started really well by getting the 14 points," Foley said.
"I talked at half-time about us having a serious lack of control. We made good breaks, but made poor decisions about when to pass the ball.
"It's just the lack of execution at times. The two scores for us came a bit early and we got a bit loose.
"We put a good physical stamp on it but, after we scored a couple of tries, we thought we could score from anywhere, which is the wrong attitude to have."
Amidst the problems, there were positives, namely Ronan O'Mahony's man-of-the-match display in which he scored a try in either half, while Jack O'Donoghue's impact off the bench served as another timely reminder of his undoubted quality.
Munster will return to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in the Pro12 and although they will take comfort from the fact that they have taken maximum points from their last two games, this performance was a step back from the impressive display against Stade Francais.
Munster led 14-5 at the break but could have been much further ahead had they not lacked killer instinct - an all too familiar trait this season.
Earlier this week, O'Mahony spoke about the need to take his opportunity in the coming weeks and he played like a man who knew that his chance had arrived. Defensively assured, the Limerick native was a threat going forward and his try after four minutes got his side off to an ideal start.
The Munster pack set up a maul from a lineout inside the Treviso 22 but when the Italians' defence held firm, Conor Murray took matters into his own hands and brilliantly found O'Mahony, who had stepped in off his wing after spotting a gaping hole in the defence.
Ian Keatley, who kicked four from four, added the extras, but his opposite number James Ambrosini had no such luck as he squandered two penalty attempts to let Munster off the hook.
In between Ambrosini's misses, Munster butchered a gilt-edged chance of their own when Tommy O'Donnell threw a forward pass to Simon Zebo, who would have had an easy task to score.
Munster would soon atone for that error, though, and it was again the quick thinking of Murray that created the opening.
The scrum-half took a quick tap penalty and spread the ball wide for Dave Kilcoyne, who was never going to be stopped from close range. Keatley converted for a 14-0 lead after quarter of an hour.
However, the Treviso pack were beginning to grow in confidence and when Billy Holland was sent to the sin bin shortly before half time, they sensed blood and duly forced their way over for a try that was no more than they deserved.
Marco Lazzaroni was on the end of a powerful rolling maul as the hosts made their numerical advantage count, but Justin Hayward was wide with the conversion.
Munster thought they had begun the second half as they did the first, but having awarded CJ Stander with a third try, referee Alexandre Ruiz then ruled it out for a knock-on after consulting with his TMO.
They weren't to be denied after 49 minutes, however, and this time it was Murray who scampered clear for a try that his performance deserved.
Murray took clean ball off the top of a lineout and didn't need a second invitation to screech through another massive defensive hole. Keatley's conversion stretched the lead to 21-5 as Munster went in search of the bonus point.
And it arrived when O'Mahony rounded off a fine individual performance with a second try after 66 minutes when he finished off a powerful break by O'Donoghue, who unlike several of his team-mates, didn't lack the composure or skill to put the winger clear with a beautiful final pass
"We're over in Parma next week and Zebre have had an excellent run of results," Foley added.
"It's going to be a tough game for us and we understand that. We need to get on the road and get a performance worthy of a result."
Benetton Treviso - J Hayward; A Pratichetti, E Bacchin (T Iannone 64), A Sgarbi, S Ragusi (S Christie 51); J Ambrosini (L McLean 68), A Lucchese; M Zanusso (A De Marchi 64), O Gega (D Giazzon 49), S Ferrari (S Manu 49); M Fuser, J-F Montauriol (T Palmer 49); M Lazzaroni (M Barbini 64), A Zanni (capt), AJ Steyn.
Munster - S Zebo; K Earls, F Saili, R Scannell (G van den Heever 68), R O'Mahony; I Keatley, C Murray (T O'Leary 74); D Kilcoyne (J Cronin 49), M Sherry (N Scannell 64), J Ryan (M Sagario 68); D Foley (M Chisholm 68), D Ryan, B Holland (R Copeland 64), T O'Donnell, CJ Stander (capt) (J O'Donoghue 55).
Ref - A Ruiz (France)