Munster in bonus territory
Munster 29 Benetton Treviso 11
Published 08/01/2012 | 05:00
This was a typical Thomond Park tale, all about cool Munster heads as the locals had to wait until the 76th minute for a bonus-point victory to be secured.
Despite Treviso's plucky display, Munster were crafty enough to eke out a win that brings them back into familiar top-four territory in the RaboDirect Pro 12.
A raw Munster side had been thumped by Ulster in Ravenhill so unsurprisingly Tony McGahan's starting XV on this occasion was flecked with class and experience. The return of Paul O'Connell, Conor Murray, Ronan O'Gara and Keith Earls ensured that significant importance was being attached to this tie.
Munster found it difficult to get going initially up front, while the lineout statistics weren't immaculate with two of the first five spilled. Two smashing breaks from Simon Zebo and Murray aside, Munster's opening quarter was more about passion than purpose, with the sides still level 19 minutes in as Kristopher Burton and O'Gara traded penalties.
Slowly but surely Munster began to find their rhythm and 23 minutes in Lifeimi Mafi's sweet offload put Niall Ronan clear -- the flanker had sufficient pace to cross for a try, with O'Gara adding the extras.
Munster dominated the rest of the first half territorially, but Treviso made a rare trip into enemy land count in the 36th minute when a Burton penalty trimmed the interval deficit to 10-6.
With Brian O'Driscoll out of the Six Nations, much interest surrounded Earls at outside-centre and the 24-year-old was unfortunate not to profit from Mafi's creative hands. However, when the Moyrossman was finally released into open space in the 50th minute a second Munster try was pinched. O'Gara nailed the conversion and suddenly Munster's advantage had a far healthier cut about it at 17-6.
Treviso had shown themselves to be durable opposition and their pack leader Monoa Vosawai burrowed over the line as they responded with a 54th-minute try. Burton failed with the conversion from an acute angle but only six points now separated the protagonists.
Any thoughts of a comeback were put to bed in the 63rd minute, however, James Coughlan wriggling over for a try with O'Gara clipping the conversion, before Zebo's try secured the bonus.
Scorers -- Munster: Ronan, Coughlan, Earls, Zebo try each; O'Gara 3cons 1pen. Treviso: Vosawai try; Burton 2 pens.
Munster: D Hurley; J Murphy (D Barnes, 63), K Earls, L Mafi, S Zebo; R O'Gara (I Keatley 76), C Murray (T O'Leary 63); W du Preez (M Horan 63), D Varley (J Fogarty 65), BJ Botha (S Archer 65); D Ryan, P O'Connell (B Holland 75); P O'Mahony, N Ronan (D O'Callaghan 34), J Coughlan.
Treviso: L McClean; 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 Rouyet 64); A Pavanello (V Bernabo 64), C Van Zyl (E Pavanello 70); G Padro, A Zanni, M Vosawai (S Picone 70).
Referee: N Owens (Wales)
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