Friday 18 August 2017

O'Mahony and Zebo send out Test message

Treviso 14 Munster 35 Pro 12 League

Tony McGahan had every reason to be satisfied come the end of Saturday's impressive victory in Italy.

Not only had Munster secured their first away win in the competition since last September, but they also became the first side to register a bonus point win at the Stadio Monigo this season.

Tries by Danny Barnes, Johne Murphy and a brace by Simon Zebo warmed the blood for the travelling brigade, who had been forced to sit on their hands the previous week due to the snow across the plains in Viadana.

Throw into the mix the return from injury of Felix Jones and the post-match clean bill of health, and it was easy to see why McGahan had a spring in his step.

"We're really delighted with the performance," he enthused when it was all done and dusted. "We've been out of rugby for the last four weeks, so to come to Treviso and get a bonus point is exceptionally pleasing.

"We've been here for a couple of days now and we'll leave eager to make a mark on the next three games."

Of the players to make a mark in the Venetian outpost, Zebo was once again top of the bill as he made it six tries in three games (including for the Irish Wolfhounds against the Saxons).

Both his tries on Saturday had the stamp of a winger who must surely be nearing a Test start, his lack of years notwithstanding.

For the first, he was both provider and finisher, unlocking the visiting defence with an inch-perfect grubber kick for Barnes before taking the return pass to smash over the line.

The second arrived just a minute from time, but was well worth the wait as the 21-year-old showed speed, power and sublime footwork to skin his opposite wing before rounding the full-back as if he wasn't there.

"Simon is certainly a very important strike player for us," said McGahan of the rising young star.

"The important thing for us is the work rate which he brings to the game, which coupled with his finishing makes him a very important member of our team. He's certainly getting a taste for international rugby with being involved with the 'A' programme, and that is a great motivation for any young man coming through."

Another man clearly not lacking in motivation was Peter O'Mahony, who sent a loud 'pick me' clamour to Declan Kidney ahead of Italy's visit to Dublin.

Modest opponents or not, O'Mahony stood out, purely for his willingness to get stuck in. That he was whistled and jeered throughout by the home support spoke volumes of the destruction he wreaked at the breakdown.

"Peter is gathering momentum and improving every time he steps out onto the pitch," offered McGahan.

"He's a young man who is going places, not only at provincial level, but also on the international stage."


"For him to get into the mode after not playing a lot of rugby in the last three weeks is testament to his professionalism."

Professionalism was the name of the game for Ronan O'Gara, who issued Kidney with a gentle reminder of his marksmanship, kicking everything that came his way in a 15-point haul.

Even the more partisan locals were nodding in appreciation when he was announced as man-of-the-match.

As for his half-back partner Tomás O'Leary, the official word from the Munster camp was that the out-of-favour Ireland scrum-half had not yet signed on the dotted line for Perpignan, despite reports of the contrary emanating from French TV on Friday night. There is, however, an offer on the table from the French club.

Munster have also made O'Leary an offer and he is expected to make up his mind early this week.

Treviso - L Nitoglia; T Iannone, E Galon (G Garcia 56),

A Sgarbi, B Williams; W de Waal, F Semenzato; Muccignat

(A Allori 70), F Sbaraglini (E Ceccato 50), P Di Santo (I Fernandez-Rouyet 50); A Pavanello (capt), C Van Zyl; P Derbyshire

(V Bernabo 41), B Vermaak (G Padro 32), M Filippucci.

Munster - D Hurley; J Murphy (F Jones 60), D Barnes, L Mafi, S Zebo; R O'Gara (S Deasy 75), T O'Leary (D Williams 56); W Du Preez (M Horan 50), D Varley (D Fogarty 75), BJ Botha

(S Archer 70); D Ryan, M O'Driscoll (capt) (B Holland 70);

D O'Callaghan (T O'Donnell 68), P O'Mahony, J Coughlan.

Ref - N Hennessy (Wales).

Irish Independent

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