RugbyMatch Report

Last-gasp Ahern try saves Munster from first loss to Italian opposition in a decade

Rowntree relieved to escape from game against Benetton with draw after Ahern try

URC: Benetton 13 Munster 13

Munster had not lost to Italian opposition in a decade but it took a last-gasp try from Tom Ahern and a conversion from Joey Carbery to prevent a shock loss for the URC champions at Stadio Monigo in Treviso.

Head coach Graham Rowntree was relieved to escape from northern Italy without suffering a loss but knows they will need to regroup before facing the Dragons in Cork next weekend.

“It took us to the last five minutes to get a draw and I thought we did very well to get a draw,” said Rowntree. “That was a very good performance by Treviso. For 63 minutes we just could not break them down but we showed a lot of composure there as a team to stay in the game.


“That I am pleased about but we will have a good look at our game. We have got to be more clinical, we have got to be more accurate.

“We were under immense pressure from a very good team and they made us make mistakes and we have to go away and look at how we cannot make those mistakes.”

Munster struggled all afternoon to find the form which saw them blitz the Sharks last week and it was the Italians who did most of the early running and were good value for their 13-3 interval lead.

Jacon Umaga and Carbery traded penalties in the opening 13 minutes but Benetton, with former Munster centre Malakai Fekitoa in their starting line-up, who got on top.

Another penalty from Umaga edged them in front before they struck for the opening try of the match three minutes from the interval.

Good pressure forced Munster on the back foot and fullback Rhyno Smith made the most of it, with the former Springbok sevens player going over.

Umaga added the extras to send Benetton in at the break with a 10-point cushion.

They defended that lead well when Munster finally got moving after the break with the title holders unable to create openings from a couple of penalties to touch.

They reduced the margin seven minutes from time when Carbery tapped over a penalty to set up a tight finish.

Munster thought they had got over when replacement hooker Scott Buckley made it through but he was pinged back for an offside while they were playing a penalty advantage.

And Munster made it count. Gavin Coombes and Alex Kendellen were both stopped short of the line but Munster recycled well and Ahern used all of his 6′8″ frame to stretch over the line in the final play to cut the gap to two. Carbery kept his composure and tapped over the conversion to salvage the draw.

SCORERS – Benetton: Try: R Smith. Pens: J Umaga (2). Con: Umaga. Munster: Try: T Ahern. Pens: J Carbery (2) Con: Carbery.

BENETTON: R Smith; I Mendy, M Fekitoa, F Drago, E Padovani; J Umaga, A Uren; M Spagnolo, G Lucchesi, G Zilocchi; E Iachizzi, E Snyman; A Izekor, M Zuliani, T Halafihi. Replacements: H Time-Stowers for Halafihi (46 mins), G Nicotera for Lucchesi, F Zani for Spagnolo, T Pasquali for Zilocchi (all 49), T Albornoz for Umaga (60), G Koegelenberg for Izekor (64), M Zanon for Zuliani (72).

MUNSTER: S Daly; S McCarthy, A Frisch, R Scannell, C Nash; J Carbery, E Coughlan; K Ryan, D Barron, S Archer; E Edogbo, F Wycherley; J O’Donoghue, J Hodnett, G Coombes. Replacements: A Kendellan for Hodnett, J Ryan for Archer, A Nankivell for Scannell (all 49 mins), P Patterson for Coughlan (51), S O’Brien for McCarthy (54), T Ahern for Wycherley (57), S Buckley for Barron, M Donnelly for K Ryan (both 65).

REFEREE: M Ferreira (South Africa).