CJ Stander the star as Munster secure bonus point
Munster leave it late but get there in the end in Thomond Park wind and rain
Munster’s CJ Stander scores their second try of the game Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Munster 32 Benetton Treviso 7
Munster got there in the end. It wasn’t pretty and it took until the 76th minute for the Irish province to secure the bonus point when Simon Zebo crossed for the fourth try on a filthy night in Limerick.
The home side will enjoy the result, briefly, but for Munster coach Anthony Foley there is plenty upon which to work ahead of their trip to Paris next weekend and a clash with Stade Francais.
Munster will be grateful to their excellent lineout maul that was the principal weapon on the night where a wet ball made handling extremely difficult. It might have yielded a greater dividend but on a couple of occasions errors in the throes of scoring cost them.
Treviso deserve credit for their dogged resistance, albeit without really threatening an upset. Number eight Braam Steyn had a fine match as did their back row in general, while Luke McLean’s boot provided occasional relief.
English referee Matthew Carley was remarkably tolerant of the Italian side’s transgressions and it wasn’t until they conceded their 14th penalty that replacement prop Matteo Muccignat received a yellow card.
Munster captain and number eight CJ Stander was a deserved man of the match while Conor Murray’s box-kicking and Ian Keatley’s line kicking were really excellent in securing field position.
The pack worked hard to a man while fullback Andrew Conway coped admirably in trying circumstances, invariably making good decisions.
Even allowing for the sheeting rain and swirling wind, Munster playing into the elements, will have been disappointed with their general performance, undermined by some sloppy handling and loose kicking.
They managed to score one try through BJ Botha and the former Springbok might have had another but lost the ball in the action of touching down. Those two incidents took place in the first eight minutes and little did the home supporters realise that subsequent try scoring chances would be virtually non-existent.
Keatley converted but his next involvement on 16 minutes was less positive – his only major aberration on the night in which he made a handsome contribution – as his clearance kick from inside the Munster 22 was charged down by Treviso number eight Braam Steyn and the South Africa demonstrated good athleticism to first nudge the ball over the line with his foot and then get his fingertip pressure as the ball threatened to skid over the dead ball line.
Jayden Hayward tagged on the conversion but the home side regained the lead a couple of minutes later when Keatley kicked a 23-metre penalty. They managed to work their way into the Treviso 22 on a couple more occasions but handling errors allowed the Italians to escape unscathed on the scoreboard.
Munster lost hooker Mike Sherry after 28 minutes; a real pity given his horrendous run with injury and the way he had started the game. He looked sharp and his power in carrying gave his team some impetus.
Treviso were penalised three times at the scrum and Munster also got some good impetus from their lineout mauls but they could not establish the continuity of possession and field position that might have yielded further scores. They forced the issue on too many times with risky offloads or choosing the wrong option.
Keatley kicked an early penalty after the re-start but it wasn’t until the 55th minute with Stander’s muscular drive that the home side got their second try. Replacement hooker Duncan Casey was driven over from a lineout maul on 68 minutes and as the home supporters roared their team to a grandstand finish Zebo applied the coup de grace; it came after some patient and accurate surges by the pack in particular.
Scoring sequence - 4 mins: Botha try, Keatley conversion, 7-0; 16: Steyn try, Hayward conversion, 7-7; 18: Keatley penalty, 10-7. Halftime: 10-7. 48: Keatley penalty, 13-7; 55: Stander try, 18-7; 68: Casey try, Keatley conversion, 25-7; 75: Zebo try, Keatley conversion, 32-7.
Munster: A Conway; K Earls, F Saili, D Hurley, S Zebo; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, BJ Botha; D Ryan, M Chisholm; Dave O’Callaghan, J O’Donoghue, CJ Stander (capt).
Replacements: D Casey for Sherry 28 mins; J Cronin for Kilcoyne 49 mins; R Copeland for O’Callaghan 55 mins; D Foley for Chisholm 66 mins; J Ryan for BJ Botha 72 mins; T O’Leary for Murray 78 mins; R Scannell for Keatley 78 mins; L Amorosino for Conway 78 mins; Kilcoyne for Casey 79 mins
Benetton Treviso: L McLean; L Nitoglia, J Hayward, E Bacchin, T Iannone; J Ambrosini, E Gori; M Zanusso, M Gega, R Harden; R Douglas Naude, JF Montauriol; F Minto, A Zanni, A Steyn.
Replacements: M Barbini for Zanni 28 mins; D Giazzon for Gega halftime; F Fillipetto for Harden 49 mins; D Budd for Naude 49 mins; C Smylie for Nitoglia 55 mins; M Muccignat for Zanusso 71 mins.
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Yellow card: M Muccignat 74 mins