Munster 14 (Tries: Earls, Downey. Cons: Hanrahan2), Treviso 3 (Pen: Berquist)
Munster coach Rob Penney has warned his men they will get hammered if they go into next weekend's crunch clash with Leinster trying to prove a point that they should have been in the Irish squad for the Six Nations.
Penney said they need to channel any frustration into a team effort and not try score personal points. “That is exactly what we don’t want to happen. I reckon that’s a really dangerous path to go down. If we go out there to try to win individual battles we will get spanked,” said Penney.
And Penney knows that a big improvement will be required from Saturday night’s display when they never looked like getting a bonus point to match Leinster’s late five-point haul against Zebre on Friday night.
“It is going to be really, really challenging. They have a group there who have been conditioned to Test matches. We have a group that have played no rugby basically for three weeks. The odds are stacked and you would expect the team that has had the ability to be conditioned to Test match rugby to be fresh and excited about the opportunity to put the blue jersey on at home.
“So it will be challenging. There is no doubt about it. It is basically Munster playing the Six Nations champions. That is the reality of the situation. The game will be a massive occasion and we just have to make sure we are disciplined and that we are playing for each other.
“We have to put all the individual battles to one side because that is going to be distractions that we don’t need. We got to make sure that collectively we are on the same page and that we are working hard for each other and Munster. That is our best way of combating what they will bring.”
His side were sluggish on Saturday night and struggled to build the phases against the limited Italians. None more so than JJ Hanrahan, the league's top marksman who had landed 46 out of 50 prior to this encounter but somehow he managed to pull two relatively simple kicks wide on the near side from the left.
That meant that Mat Berquist's early penalty gave Treviso a lead unil seven minutes from the interval but once Keith Earls crossed in the 37th minute, the only 100 per cent home record in the league this season always looked intact.
Hanrahan’s pass for Earls to crown his return from injury with a try looked suspiciously forward but TMO Dermot Moloney gave him the nod and they led 7-3 at the interval.
Munster dominated after the restart, showing intent by going to the corner with an early penalty but then lacked the execution to finish it off despite a string of penalties and scrums and the binning of Treviso hooker Giovanni Maistri.
Munster eventually wrapped up the issue when James Downey celebrated his 33rd birthday at the weekend in the left corner but Munster never looked like building on that and getting the two tries which would keep them on Leinster's heels going into next weekend's clash.
Man of the match Felix Jones said the clash with Leinster is their sole focus now. “Everyone talks about the lift, the step-up in intensity for a Heineken Cup but Leinster-Munster, that just happens naturally. It’s great to have that as a run-in to the Heineken Cup but in saying that, we’re not even considering Toulouse. It’s all about Leinster for us.”
But while Munster coach Rob Penney has billed the match as them against the 'Six Nations champions', Jones said: "To be honest, personally, I see this as Leinster v Munster. I'm not playing in the Six Nations, we're playing in the Rabo next weekend. I'm sure there will be individual battles going on but hopefully we'll be doing it with a team ethos behind us and the team in mind."
MUNSTER: F Jones; K Earls, C Laulala, J Downey, J Murphy; JJ Hanrahan, D Williams; J Cronin, D Varley, J Ryan; D Foley, B Holland; D Ryan, S Dougall, P Butler. Replacements: S Archer for Ryan, 8; D Kilcoyne for Cronin, 57; Donncha O'Callaghan for Holland, 57; S Zebo for Laulala, 60; I Keatley for Hanrahan, 65; CJ Stander for Dougall, 67; Q McDonald for Varley, 75; G Hurley for Williams, 75.
TREVISO: A Esposito; C Loamanu, M Campagnaro, A Sgarbi, L Nitoglia; M Berquist, E Gori; A de Marchi, G Maistri, L Cittadini; A Pavanello, V Bernabo; M Vosawai, M Filippucci, R Barbieri. Replacements: T Botes for Gori, 53; M Fuser for Pavanello, 53; C Van Zyl for Bernabo, 53; L Ghiraldini for Maistri, 60; M Muccignat for de Marchi, 61; L McLean for Esposito, 64; I F-Rouyet for Cittadini, 73.
Referee: L Hodges (WRU).