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Munster Facing Into A Stern Test

January 16, 2010 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Munster Facing Into A Stern Test

What will please Munster as they face into this penultimate Pool game is that they’ve achieved what they set out to achieve by arriving at this stage of the competition with their fate very much in their own hands.

Right from the word go, doubts were expressed about this squad and their ability to progress from an ultra competitive group. And right from the word go players and management urged the doubters to wait till the Pool was completed before rushing to judgement.

Now while they are far from home an hosed they do have qualification in their own hands, albeit with two particularly tough games to go, starting with this particularly tricky assignment.

As Ronan O’Gara rightly pointed out, this is not your traditional Italian side. They’ve accounted for Perpignan at this venue, led Northampton for half of the game in Franklin’s Gardens and ran them ever so close here in Treviso. So Viadana they ain’t.

And they make no secret of the fact that their season would be crowned if they were to turn Munster over.

They have an excellent set piece game and plenty of pace in the backs to take advantage of any inconsistencies in Munster’s game. Tony McGahan insists that a good start is vital for his side knowing that this is no place and no opposition to be trying to play catch-up against.

The obvious problem Munster face – other than the opposition – is the lack of game time because of weather conditions over the past number of weeks.

There is nothing they can do about that and it is vital that their leading lights get to the pitch of the game as quickly as possible.

Treviso can score tries and they usually make the most of opponents errors and if Munster cough up early tries as easily as they did when the sides met in Thomond Park it could be a dog day afternoon in the Stadio Communale Monigo.

Munster: P Warwick; D Howlett, K Earls, J de Villiers, D Hurley; T O’Leary, R O’Gara; W du Preez, D Fogarty, J Hayes; D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell capt; A Quinlan, N Ronan, D Wallace. Replacements: D Varley, S Archer, J Brugnaut, D Ryan, J Coughlan, P Stringer, L Mafi, I Dowling.

Benetton Treviso: L McLean, A Vilk, A Sgarbi, G Garcia, B de Jager, M Goosen, S Picone, M Rizzo, L Ghiraldini, I Fernandez Rouyet, A Pavanello, C van Zyl, B Vermaak , A Zanni, D Kingi
Replacements: D Vidal, A Allori, P di Santo, E Pavanello, M Filippucci, S Orlando, F Semenzato, T Botes

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Munster Complete The Italian Job In Style

January 17, 2010 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Munster Complete The Italian Job In Style

Munster left themselves in pole position to qualify for the knock-out phase of this year’s Heineken Cup with a bonus point 44-7 win over Benetton Treviso in front of a packed house in the Stadio Comunale Monigo in Treviso.

And it was a victory that was as emphatic as the final scoreline suggests with Munster ahead 30-7 at the break and the bonus point secured thanks to four tries from Denis Hurley, Keith Earls, Donncha O’Callaghan and Paul Warwick.

Ronan O’Gara converted two of those tries, – the ones he missed were both from the touchline – and also added three first half penalties as well as the conversion of Earl’s second half try.

All the talk before the game was of Treviso’s home record that included defeat of Perpignan and narrow loss to Northampton Saints. In that regard Munster coach Tony McGahan insisted his side must start off well and they certainly answered that call in no uncertain manner.

In the first minue Marius Goosen blasted his penalty wide from in front of the posts and two minutes later Keith Earls carved open the Treviso defence before feeding Paul O’Connell who in turn found Denis Hurley who raced clear for the opening score.

Almost from the kick off, Munster extended their lead, this time Doug Howlett making the decisive break and Earls finishing off wide on the right.

Five minutes later, Warwicks ran a ball out of his own 22, linked with Niall Ronan who found David Wallace racing down the touchline and Wallace timed his inside pass to perfection to send O’Callghan galloping for the line.

That convesion and an O’Gara penalty had Munster 20 points to the good before the home crowd were given something to cheer about when Alessandro Zanni intercepted a Tomas O’Leary pass and bolted for the line.

O’Gara steadied Munster nerves with a 30th minute penalty and added the extras to Warwick’s well taken 33rd minute try after which Munster were forced to defend a series of close in scrums as Chris White penalised them at scrum-time.

But survive they did to go into the break leading by 23 points.

The game went through a fairly turgid period in the third quarter as Munster went about the business of containing the expected Treviso response after coach Franco Smith’s no doubt fairly coulourful half time address.

Jean de Villiers turned provider for Keith Earls’ try in the 63rd minute and replacement James Coughlan ate up the ground in a break that led to Donncha Ryan scoring Munster’s sixth try with Warwick adding the conversion.

Munster: P Warwick; D Howlett, K Earls, J De Villiers, D Hurley (I Dowling 65); R O’Gara (L Mafi 64), T O’Leary (P Stringer 60); W Du Preez(J Brugnaut 72) , D Fogarty (D Varley 64), J Hayes (T Buckley 72), D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell, A Quinlan (D Ryan 60), N Ronan, D Wallace (J Coughlan h-t)

Treviso: L McLean, A Vilk, A Sgarbi, G Garcia, B De Jager, M Goosen (T Botes 47), S Picone,M Rizzo (A Allori 54), L Ghiraldini (D Vidal), I-F Rouyet (P Di Santo 54), A Pavanello (E Pavanello 74), C Van Zyl, B Vermaak, A Zanni, D Kingi

Referee: C White

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