Friday 20 September 2019

Mathewson puts seal on rousing rally as stand-ins do Munster proud

Benetton Rugby 28 Munster 37

Chris Cloete of Munster Rugby is hard tackled by Tommaso Allan of Benetton Treviso. Photo by Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile
Chris Cloete of Munster Rugby is hard tackled by Tommaso Allan of Benetton Treviso. Photo by Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Munster came from 11 points down to earn a bonus-point win at Stadio Monigo to head into their Champions Cup showdown with Saracens on a high.

Their understrength side came good when it mattered most to dent Benetton's hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the PRO14 for the first time.

Jack O'Donoghue of Munster Rugby gets the ball in line out. Photo by Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile
Jack O'Donoghue of Munster Rugby gets the ball in line out. Photo by Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile

The hosts deservedly led 21-17 at the end of an opening half where the lead changed hands five times in a cracking contest in front of a capacity home crowd of 7,000.

With Fijian winger Ratuva Tavuyara showing off his array of skills, Benetton raced into a 10-0 lead, with centre Tommaso Benvenuti getting the try.

Munster side did not panic and hit back with Rhys Marshall getting over for a try after a driven lineout. The visitors hit the front when Dan Goggin intercepted a pass to score - JJ Hanrahan converted both tries.

Two penalties from Tommaso Allan edged the Italians back in front before a penalty from Hanrahan restored Munster's lead, but Monty Ioane's fine try made it 21-17 at the break.

Tommaso Allan of Benetton Treviso goes over Rhys Marshall of Munster Rugby. Photo by Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile
Tommaso Allan of Benetton Treviso goes over Rhys Marshall of Munster Rugby. Photo by Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile

Benetton laid siege to the Munster line for four minutes after the restart and were rewarded with a penalty try after Darren Sweetnam deliberately knocked-on, earning a yellow card in the process as the Italians pushed 28-17 clear.

Again Munster stayed calm impressively and two penalties from Hanrahan cut the gap, with Benvenuti picking up a yellow card for a high hit on Stephen Archer.

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Goggin put Shane Daly over for his first Muster try on 61 minutes, with Hanrahan's conversion edging them 30-28 in front from the left touchline.

Then the out-half combined with Alby Mathewson for the scrum-half to race through for the bonus-point try. The conversion pushed the lead out to 37-28 and Munster were never troubled after that.

Benetton Rugby: J Hayward; R Tavuyara, T Benvenuti (A Rizzi 69), M Zanon, M Ioane; T Allan, D Duvenage (T Tebaldi 62); N Quaglio (C Traore 51), L Bigi (H Faiva 51), M Riccioni (S Ferrari 51); I Herbst (M Lazzaroni 56), F Ruzza; G Pettinelli (M Barbini 58), A Steyn, T Halafihi.

Munster: M Haley; D Sweetnam, S Arnold (A McHenry 78), D Goggin, S Daly; JJ Hanrahan (B Johnston 78), A Mathewson (N Cronin 72); J Loughman (L O'Connor 62), R Marshall (K O'Byrne 62), S Archer (C Parker 52); F Wycherley (D O'Shea 62), B Holland; J O'Donoghue, C Cloete, G Coombes (D O'Callaghan 62).

Ref - B Whitehouse (Wales).

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