Munster cruise home despite disjointed display
Munster 34 Benetton Rugby 3
Munster encountered little difficulty in maintaining their 100pc home winning record against Benetton as they got the new PRO14 competition off to a flying start at Irish Independent Park.
Munster, leading 27-3 at the interval, looked sharp but won't be getting carried away with a win over an Italian side who showed no sign of improvements on the slackness of the last few years.
Indeed, the Reds will be disappointed they didn't run in an even bigger score in a game they dominated throughout.
Munster won all seven previous home clashes against the Italians and had the bonus point in the bag just after the half-hour mark.
The final margin would have been much greater had Tyler Bleyendaal been more accurate but he missed four of five conversions.
He landed the first of them with a superb kick from the right after lock Jean Kleyn got them off the mark on nine minutes with the opening try after a sustained bout of pressure.
The other four tries in the opening half came from the backs, with Duncan Williams popping the ball up beautifully for his half-back partner Bleyendaal to dive over after Tommy O'Donnell had been stopped short.
Munster, with new centre Chris Farrell crowning his competitive debut with some great surges, continued to dominate and wrapped up the bonus point when first Darren Sweetnam and then Alex Wootton crossed for tries.
The presence of Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell, who had a brief stint with Munster, didn't go unnoticed among supporters amid speculation that he may be a possible replacement when Rassie Erasmus (above) departs in December.
Full-back Andrew Conway, full of endeavour from the start, was the next to slice the Italians when he jinked his way from deep to score a fine try.
Munster continued to build on that 27-3 advantage after the restart and they crossed for a sixth try after 50 minutes when Kleyn bulldozed over after Italian international Francesco Minto was binned for killing the ball.
Munster introduced Mike Sherry for his first competitive action since May 2016 and the hooker will be glad to get game-time after recovering from a troublesome back injury.
Both sides emptied their benches in the second half and inevitably, the game became more disjointed.
The only disappointment on the night for Munster was a serious knee injury picked up by Dan Goggin after he was introduced and Erasmus said afterwards that he would need to be assessed before the extent of it is established.