Tuesday 6 December 2016

McGahan draws positives from dogged effort

Published 09/01/2012 | 05:00

Munster coach Tony McGahan was quick to point to areas where improvement will be required for the Heinken Cup visit of Castres next Saturday, but the key factor for him was that his side won this match.

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Four successive away defeats have left the champions with ground to make up in the Pro12, but while Treviso showed commendable spirit and were not afraid to take Munster on up front, the outcome was never in doubt.

The bonus point was, though, but McGahan's men produced their best rugby in the closing 10 minutes to nail it and send them into the final rounds of the Heineken Cup with confidence.

McGahan said that while it was good preparation for the concluding pool games in the Heineken Cup, the most important thing was to secure the win and stay in touch with the top.

"The set-piece would have been a concern, but when you're bringing a group of players back in, there was always going to be a lack of fluency," he said. "But to create the opportunities and still come out with a bonus point is a good reflection of the playing group.

"I'd have been concerned this week if we didn't have a work rate or intensity about our play, but we were pushing ourselves throughout.

"There were good support lines there which is a huge plus. We just need to complete that last bit of the puzzle. We just didn't get that last pass to stick, but we'll draw on those positive experiences."

Munster recovered from poor line-out and scrums and hit back with a game-changing 35-metre maul and 14 phases that ended with Ronan O'Gara getting their first score when he slotted a penalty from close range after 18 minutes.

Simon Zebo, Lifeimi Mafi and Keith Earls started to punch holes in the Treviso defence, but Munster struggled to reflect that dominance on the scoreboard, with scrum-half Conor Murray picking the wrong option in not passing to Peter O'Mahony with the Treviso defence exposed as his delayed pass to Niall Ronan was forward.

But Munster got it right after 24 minutes as Murray and Mafi combined in midfield for Ronan to take possession and race in from 35 metres for a fine try, which O'Gara converted.

Ronan had to go off with a knee injury sustained while scoring and the hosts led just 10-6 at the break as Kris Burton bookended the half with penalties.

Earls took an inside pass from O'Gara and skipped through the weak challenge of Burton after 50 minutes to put some daylight between the sides, with the conversion making it 17-6.

However, it was Treviso who reacted better and they scored with a penalty to the left corner and a good drive off the line-out which resulted in No 8 Manoa Vosawai diving over after 54 minutes.

But Munster showed commendable composure and raised their game in the closing minutes to kill off the Treviso challenge and claim the bonus point.

The impressive James Coughlan broke off a five-metre scrum to score after the television match official had ruled against Murray. Munster then piled on the pressure in the closing minutes and were rewarded when Zebo secured the bonus four minutes from time after being set up by replacement Ian Keatley in the left corner.

Munster -- D Hurley; J Murphy (D Barnes, 62), K Earls, L Mafi, S Zebo; R O'Gara (I Keatley, 75), C Murray (T O'Leary, 62); W du Preez (M Horan, 62), D Varley (D Fogarty, 65), BJ Botha (S Archer, 65); D Ryan, P O'Connell (B Holland, 74); P O'Mahony, N Ronan (D O'Callaghan, 34), J Coughlan.

Treviso -- L McLean; L Nitoglia (A Di Bernardo, 73), T Benvenuti, A Sgarbi, B Williams; K Burton (E Gori, 57), T Botes; M Rizzo, F Sbaraglini (D Vidal, 64), L Cittadini (I Fernandez Rouyet, 64); A Pavanello (V Bernabo, 64), C Van Zyl (E Pavanello, 70); G Padro, A Zanni, M Vosawai (S Picone, 70).

Ref -- N Owens (WRU)

Irish Independent

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