Darren Sweetnam grabs two tries as Munster book home semi-final
Bonus-point win in Italy sets up a Thomond Park Pro12 semi-final on May 20th
Darren Sweetnam scored two tries in Munster’s Guinness Pro 12 victory over Benetton Treviso at Stadio Monigo. Photograph: Marco Sartori/Inpho
Treviso 14 Munster 34
Munster encountered little Italian resistance as they chalked up the win which guarantees a home Guinness Pro 12 semi-final on Saturday May 20th at Thomond Park.
Munster, needing just two points to wrap up home advantage, were on top throughout despite making 10 changes to the side which lost to Saracens in the Champions Cup last weekend.
And there were further adjustments required both before and in the early stages of this encounter in perfect conditions at Stadio Monigo.
There was little to separate the sides in the opening 15 minutes as the physical Italians got in the faces of their visitors, who already have a semi-final spot secured.But Munster were dealt another blow in the 12th minute when Dave O’Callaghan was forced off with a knee injury, which resulted in CJ Stander being introduced much earlier than expected.
With those two setbacks you might think Munster’s fortunes would turn, but in the 19th minute winger Ronan O’Mahony had to be stretchered from the field after a collision with Roberto Barbeiri as they chased a Treviso chip.
The injuries to O’Callaghan and O’Mahony ensured a disruptive opening for a dominant Munster side.
Bleyendaal was unable to add the extras but the try settled Munster and they took over.
Bleyendaal was instrumental in the second try, looping with Darren O’Shea, before sending Simon Zebo through eight minutes from the break.
The outhalf converted converted and then extended the lead to 15-0 on the stroke of half-time with a penalty in front of the posts.
Italian coach Conor O’Shea would have been impressed in the main stand as he watched international David Odiete punish some weak tackling with a try, while recently capped winger Luca Sperandio also caught the eye with some excellent runs down the left.
Treviso, battling it out with Zebre for the Italian Champions Cup spot, will now head to Parma next weekend with a place up for grabs for the winners.
Former Leinster play Ian McKinley converted the try but notions of them getting back in the contest were quickly dispelled.
Saili was again the creator for Alex Wootton, one of several on duty in Italy last night who helped them win the B&I Cup last weekend, to score his first Munster try.
Wootton had the necessary gas to take the long pass from the former All Black and cantered over in the right corner after 64 minutes.
An alert Jack O’Donoghue wrapped up the bonus point for Munster three minutes later with an intercept as Treviso were caught trying to clear their lines.
Bleyendaal added the easy conversion as Munster pushed 20 points clear to chalk up their 16th win in a row over Italian sides.
And they didn’t take their foot off the pedal after that and completed the rout ten minutes from time when Sweetnam hacked down the right and chased to touch down.
Treviso, having gone into the match looking for a third home win in a row, never gave up and were rewarded with a late try from Jean Francois Montauriol, who dived over from close range for a consolation score before they prepare to face Zebre next weekend.
TREVISO: D Odiete; A Esposito, T Benvenuti, A Sgarbi, L Sperandio; I McKinley, E Gori; F Zani, L Bigi, S Ferrari; M Fuser, D Budd; F Minto, B Steyn, R Barbieri.
Replacements: JF Montauriol for Fuser (48 mins), M Lazzaroni for Minto (48 mins), D Giazzon for Bigi (50 mins), T Pasquali for Ferrari (58 mins), A Pratichetti for Odiete (59 mins), T Tebaldi for McKinley (63 mins), A Porolli for Zani (68 mins), G Bronzini for Gori (70 mins).
MUNSTER: S Zebo; D Sweetnam, F Saili, J Taute, R O’Mahony; T Bleyendaal, D Williams; J Cronin, R Marshall, S Archer; D O’Shea, D Ryan; D O’Callaghan, C Oliver, J O’Donoghue.
Replacements: CJ Stander for O’Callaghan (12 mins), A Wootton for O’Mahony (19 mins), F Wycherley for Ryan (43 mins), I Keatley for Taute (48 mins), K O’Byrne for Marshall (66 mins), A Lloyd for Williams (68 mins), R Burke for Archer (68 mins), B Scott for Cronin (71 mins).
Referee: I Davies (WRU).