Saturday 17 March 2018

Earls hints at return to top form as Reds breeze home

Munster 39 Treviso 13

Ian Bransfield At Thomond Park

It was business as usual in Limerick last night as Munster saw off Treviso with a bonus-point victory.

James Coughlan, Damien Varley, David Wallace, Keith Earls and Mike Sherry all touched down for Tony McGahan's men as they saw off the hapless Italians with little difficulty.

Treviso came into the match showing 11 changes from the side which caused Perpignan some trouble the week before, and never really looked likely to cause an upset.

Ludovico Nitoglia scored a second-half consolation try for the visitors, but that was as good as they could muster.

With little in the way of competition, it was difficult for anyone to really stand out, though one or two did manage to shine.

Ronan O'Gara was at his metronomic best, kicking everything that came his way for a 14-point haul.

Substitute front-rowers Mike Sherry and Darragh Hurley also made big impacts when they were brought on in the second half.

In the backs, Johne Murphy probably had his quietest game of the season, but beside him Earls showed glimpses of his old form.

His pace appears to be intact even if his timing was still a little off.

Munster set their stall out quickly and O'Gara cracked over an early penalty after Hayes and du Preez annihilated the travelling front-row in the first scrum of the game.

The line-out also went well during the early stages, save for Varley's first throw which fell some way short.

Kris Burton brought Treviso level with a penalty against the run of play but Munster soon got into gear and the opening try arrived 15 minutes in, courtesy of a close-range drive from Coughlan.

Just like in last weekend's win against Toulon, Munster's ability to hold onto the ball through several phases was impressive and Coughlan once again found himself in just enough space to touch down.


A collapsed scrum midway through the first half led to the sin-binning of Italian international prop Franco Sbaraglini and already the game looked over for Treviso.

Munster took full advantage of their extra man, and Varley skirted over for his second try of the season off the back of a well-worked maul following more good pressure.

There might have been more tries but a lack of intensity worked against Munster and mistakes began to creep in. Scott Deasy knocked on beneath his own posts and Varley made a mess of two consecutive line-outs, much to the annoyance of the paltry home crowd.

With half-time approaching, however, replacement prop Augusto Allori became the second Treviso front-rower to be binned for a scrum infringement.

One had to question whether John Hayes was really causing that much trouble on the tight side, or whether referee David Jones was feeling just a bit card-happy.

In any case, the extra space enabled Wallace to nip in for Munster's third try after O'Gara had inadvertently kicked through. O'Gara added the conversion and then another penalty to send his side into the break leading 27-3.

The second half followed much the same pattern as the first, and it didn't take long for the bonus-point try to arrive. O'Gara scooped up a bouncing ball in midfield, Wallace broke the covering line of defence, and Earls stretched his legs to score in the corner.

Du Preez became the third front-rower to see yellow when he dropped the scrum and Treviso gained some respite when Nitoglia capitalised with a try. Full-back Brendan Williams added the conversion.

With the bonus-point safely in the bag, Munster rarely broke sweat for the remainder for the game, and their rhythm was disrupted by a raft of substitutions.

They played out the rest of the game as if trying to avoid any further injuries until Sherry crossed over for his first senior try with the last play of the game.

For McGahan, thoughts now turn to next week's clash at Ravenhill where Ulster are unbeaten this season.

Munster -- S Deasy; D Howlett, K Earls, J Murphy (P Warwick 59), D Hurley; R O'Gara (I Dineen 70), P Stringer (D Williams 59); W du Preez, D Varley (M Sherry 53), J Hayes (T Buckley 64); M O'Driscoll (D O'Callaghan 71), D Ryan; A Quinlan (P O'Mahony 59), D Wallace, J Coughlan (D Hurley 60 -70).

Benetton Treviso -- B Williams; L Nitoglia, E Galon, A Vilk, B De Jager (P Di Santo 35-45); K Burton, F Semenzato (T Botes 60); F Sbaraglini (A Allori 28 - 64), L Ghiraldini, I Fernandez Rouyet (P Di Santo 52); E Pavanello (A Pavanello 45), V Bernabò; F Minto (S Picone 45), B Vermaak, R Barbieri.

Ref -- D Jones (Wales).

Irish Independent

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