Munster and Connacht claim first wins
Pro 12 round-up:Munster handed new head coach Rob Penney his first Thomond Park win as they got the better of Benetton Treviso on a scoreline of 19-6.
Team captain Doug Howlett dashed through for a fifth minute try, in response to Alberto di Bernado’s opening penalty, and Munster foraged into a 16-3 lead by the break. But that proved to be the only try of the game with Ian Keatley, who finished with 14 points, and Di Bernardo kicking a penalty apiece in the second half.
The Italians started in good fettle, their pack providing a decent platform and Brendan Williams threatening from deep.
They were kicked in front by Di Bernardo, but their lead lasted only two minutes as Munster hit back at them.
Damien Varley threw over the back of a lineout to Dave O’Callaghan who burst forward and Howlett timed his support run to perfection as he took the flanker’s pass and thundered in under the posts.
Keatley converted and soon added his first penalty, with the home crowd enjoying Munster’s eagerness to shift the ball and get their outside backs involved.
This attacking adventure under Penney was a feature in the win away to Edinburgh last Saturday, but a forceful scrum also yielded points tonight.
The Treviso frontrow popped up under the pressure and Keatley landed a 24th-minute penalty.
The penalty count increased against the Italians, allowing Keatley to push the gap out to 13 points.
Franco Smith’s men got no reward for a strengthening scrum and better share of territory - a Luca Morisi counter attack might have led to a try but for a knock on from the supporting Williams.
After weathering an early second half storm from Treviso, Munster went in search of an elusive second try.
Keatley knocked on to spoil a brilliant break from Howlett and Casey Laulala, James Coughlan and Mike Sherry all went close during a purple patch for the province.
Treviso lost centre Alberto Sgarbi to the sin-bin for not rolling away, leaking a further three points to Keatley in the process.
Munster’s dominance of territory merited more but they were unable to finish off their chances. Treviso came more into it late on, buoyed by Di Bernardo’s second penalty.
After previous warnings, Munster had replacement hooker Sherry sin-binned for hands in the ruck. But time was almost up and they were able to keep Treviso try-less as they maintained their winning start to the league.
Connachtalso notched up their first win as they beat new Italian outfit Zebre 30-17 in Parma.
Connacht’s tries came from Tiernan O'Halloran and George Naoupu, with outhalf Miah Nikora putting in a faultless kicking display with 15 points as well as going over for a try.