Munster on a roll and look too strong for hopeful Treviso
The Irish side are hoping to complete their third win in consecutive weeks in Italy
Munster’s Simon Zebo during training. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Depending on your choice of words, Rob Penney has rotated or strengthened his Munster side for tonight’s meeting with the stronger of the two Italian sides. The Irish team’s sojourn in the north of Italy for the week would be handsomely repaid if they could bag a second win, their third in a row.
With Simon Zebo, the recovered Keith Earls and James Downey coming into the backline and captain Peter O’Mahony and Niall Ronan called back into a changed pack a win is what coach Rob Penney has in his sights.
The statisticians are also saying that a bonus point win would make Munster the first team to start a Pro12 season with three consecutive bonus point wins.
To make that happen Penney makes 11 changes to the side that defeated Zebre 43-21 last week with Ian Keatley and Duncan Williams taking over from JJ Hanrahan and Cathal Sheridan at halfback, while hooker Mike Sherry and loosehead Stephen Archer join David Kilcoyne in the frontrow.
Billy Holland makes his first start of the league season alongside Donnacha Ryan in the secondrow and James Coughlan starts at number eight in an all new backrow.
Treviso have moved players too, Italy’s Luke McClean going into fullback and Mat Berquist at outhalf for Alberto Di Bernardo. Prop Lorenzo Cittadini has been banned for three weeks for striking an opponent in their defeat to Scarlets last week, which allows Alberto De Marchi move into the tighthead position.
Of the six times the two sides have met Treviso have won a respectable two of those and with Munster’s last win in Stadio Monigo back in February 2012.
But tonight’s Munster side has enough first choice players included to know that Penney sees it as one of those matches where they know they have to reach a little higher into the energy reserves than they did in last week’s processional win. Treviso will ensure a hard breakdown and set piece battle but Munster are on a roll as well as having too much ability to be turned over.
Treviso: L McLean; C Loamanu, M Campagnaro, A Sgarbi, L Nitoglia; M Berquist, E Gori; M Rizzo, E Ceccato, A De Marchi; A Pavanello (capt), M Fuser; S Favaro, A Zanni, M Vosawai. Replacements: G Maistri, I Fernandez-Rouyet, P Di Santo, V Bernabò, D Budd, R Barbieri, F Semenzato, A Di Bernardo.
Munster: D Hurley; K Earls, C Laulala, J Downey, S Zebo; I Keatley, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, S Archer, Ryan, B Holland; P O’Mahony (capt), N Ronan, J Coughlan. Replacements: D Varley, J Cronin, J Ryan, D O’Callaghan, CJ Stander, C Sheridan, JJ Hanrahan, I Dineen.
Referee: L Hodges (WRU)