Saturday 10 December 2016

Easy pickings as Munster go top

Munster 46 Treviso 3

Declan Rooney

Published 27/11/2016 | 02:30

Ronan O’Mahony scores Munster’s fifth try despite the efforts of Treviso’s Alberto Sgarbi at Thomond Park yesterday. Photo: Diarmuid Greene
Ronan O’Mahony scores Munster’s fifth try despite the efforts of Treviso’s Alberto Sgarbi at Thomond Park yesterday. Photo: Diarmuid Greene

A pair of tries from Andrew Conway in the first-half helped Rassie Erasmus' side to a fifth straight win as they pulled clear at the top of the Pro12 standings.

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There was nothing flashy about this bonus-point win, but Munster did well to wrap up the five-point haul early in the second-half and close out the victory.

Darren O'Shea of Munster scores his side's fourth try. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Darren O'Shea of Munster scores his side's fourth try. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Robin Copeland and Darren O'Shea ran in tries either side of Conway's brace, while Ronan O'Mahony scored twice in six minutes late on and replacement Alex Wootton also ran in his first Pro12 try.

"Overall I think we are satisfied,"said Erasmus. "But now we go into big games and we have a lot of decision making around team selection.

"Hopefully our Irish boys come though the game okay, and then we will make clever decisions around match fitness and form."

The hot whiskey sellers must love this weather, but the near freezing conditions and international rugby elsewhere meant that there was plenty of empty seats to be seen around Thomond Park yesterday afternoon.

Munster's Ian Keatley kicks a conversion. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Munster's Ian Keatley kicks a conversion. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

With one game extra against the Maori All Blacks to their name in the international window, Munster should have been able to hit the ground running in this fixture against the Italian minnows, but it was the visitors to Limerick that impressed in the early action.

As early as the third minute they were presented with a great attacking platform after Luca Serandio kicked through on the right and Conway was forced to kick to touch. But the Italians were unable to gather possession and after O'Shea got up to disrupt the throw, Dave Kilcoyne completed the clearance.

Former Leinster out-half Ian McKinley was Treviso's playmaker and he kept Munster pinned back in their own half with some good territorial kicking, and he also kicked his side into a ninth-minute lead when Tommy O'Donnell was penalised for not releasing after the tackle. McKinley's penalty eventually found it's range via the post for a 3-0 lead.

Fresh from his first start of the season at No 8 against the Maori's, Copeland was again in charge at the back of the scrum, and it was his crash ball that tempted Tito Tebaldi into the concession of a 14th minute penalty, which Bleyendaal duly kicked to level matters.

Munster's Darren O'Shea of Munster wins possession in a lineout ahead of Marco Lazzaroni. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Munster's Darren O'Shea of Munster wins possession in a lineout ahead of Marco Lazzaroni. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Without 21 players due to injury and international duty, Treviso's depth was bound to be put to the test against a strong Munster side, and the first hint of a physical superiority came after 19 minutes when the Munster scrum won its first penalty.

A powerful shove soon forced Jaco Taute over the line, although the South African was held up, but from the following five-metre scrum, the Munster pack sent Treviso into reverse and Copeland had an easy task to touch down.

Bleyendaal's conversion made it 10-3 for the home side, and it didn't take them long to add to that, but they had Conway's sharp reactions to thank for the score. Bleyendaal sent a beautifully-weighted kick towards the corner for O'Mahony to run on to, but it struck the try-line flag and rebounded into play, where Conway pounced to score.

Since he has returned from concussion Conway has been one of Munster's form backs and he showed great speed to run clear of the Treviso defence five minutes from half-time to score his side's third try. Yet again Bleyendaal picked out his winger with a smart kick and O'Mahony's inside pass sent Conway clear to score for a 22-3 lead, which they held secure until half-time.

Treviso did have their chances to impact the scoreboard before the interval, but their inadequacies were summed up just before the break when they again failed to organise a sloppy rolling maul five metres from the Munster line and John Ryan got in to force the turnover.

With no video referee and a dearth of stoppages, the first-half was completed in 43 minutes in Scottish referee Mike Adamson's first Pro12 game - the first former Pro12 player to referee a game in the league. And three minutes after the restart Munster scored their fourth which secured the five-point return.

Again Bleyendaal was in the thick of the action and his skip pass almost sent skipper Tommy O'Donnell over in the corner, but the New Zealander was quick to the breakdown, filled in at scrum-half and sent galloping O'Shea over for a fine try - his first for the province.

The conversion was far from a 'gimmie', but Bleyendaal made easy work of it from the left and Munster moved 29-3 ahead.

Conway nearly got over for his hat-trick try 14 minutes from time, but after he was stopped short Bleyendaal sent O'Mahony over in the corner, and 11 minutes from time replacement Wootton stepped well off the right touchline to score his side's sixth. Munster didn't let up there though and Niall Scannell and Copeland linked well and sent O'Mahony in for his second of the match and fourth of the season. Easy pickings.

Scorers - Munster: R Copeland, A Conway (2), D O'Shea, R O'Mahony (2), A Wootton tries; T Bleyendaal 3cons, pen, I Keatley con. Treviso: I McKinley pen.
Munster: A Conway; D Sweetnam (A Wootton 57), S Arnold, J Taute, R O'Mahony; T Bleyendaal (I Keatley 67), D Williams (A Lloyd 67); D Kilcoyne (T du Toit 47), R Marshall (N Scannell 62), J Ryan (S Archer 62); D Foley (J Kleyn 54), D O'Shea; J O'Donoghue, T O'Donnell (c) (B Holland 53), R Copeland.
Treviso: J Hayward; M Tagicakibau, T Iannone (D Odiete 43), A Sgarbi (c), L Sperandio (A Pratichetti 57); I McKinley, T Tebaldi; A De Marchi (F Zani 57), L Bigi (D Giazzon 49), M Zanusso (T Pasquali 49 HIA); F Gerosa (R Santamaria 48), M Van Vuren (F Conforti 63); M Lazzaroni, F Ferrarini, M Barbini.
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)

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