Munster dig deep to grab bonus-point comeback win in Italy
Tries from Shane Daly and Alby Mathewson in final quarter secure the points
Munster’s Darren O’Shea offloads during the Guinness Pro 14 game against Benetton at Stadio Monigo in Treviso. Photograph: Elena Barbini/Inpho
Benetton Rugby 28 Munster 37
Munster, even with an understrength side, showed they have lost none of the ability to carve out victory in hostile environments as they came from 11 points down to score a bonus-point win in Treviso on Friday night.
In the process they keep alive their hopes of going directly into the semi-finals of the Guinness Pro 14, as well as getting an ideal boost at Stadio Monigo ahead of their Heineken Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens.
But it could be a costly defeat for a Benetton Rugby side hoping to make it to the knockout stages for the first time.
The lead changed hands five times in the opening half of a highly entertaining encounter in front of a full house of around 7,000 on a perfect night for rugby.
And Benetton lost little time in giving the home crowd plenty to cheer about as they raced into a 10-0 lead.
Italian centre Tommaso Benvenuti got the opening try after eight minutes after some superb work by Fijian winger Ratuva Tavuyara, who thrilled the crowd with an array of skills.
Munster, though, did not panic and they hit back with Rhys Marshall getting over for a try after they went to the right corner with a penalty and after the initial foray saw Gavin Coombes stopped, the hooker got over on the recycle.
Munster hit the front six minutes later after Dan Goggin intercepted a pass from Jayden Hayward after a big hit by Sam Arnold in midfield had initially created the opening.
JJ Hanrahan converted both tries to make it 14-10 to the visitors but two penalties from Tommaso Allan edged the Italians back in front before a penalty from Hanrahan restored Munster’s lead after 26 minutes.
However, Benetton pressure yielded a second try of the half for them when a break from Hayward set up winger Monty Ioane for a fine score, with Allan missing his first kick of the night when he hit the woodwork with the conversion.
Munster suffered a massive double blow after 45 minutes with Darren Sweetnam binned for a deliberate knock-on and referee Ben Whitehouse awarded a penalty try to make it 28-17 to Benetton.
But two Hanrahan penalties and a yellow card for Benvenuti cut the gap to 28-23 heading into the final quarter.
Munster drew level when Goggin put Shane Daly over for his first Muster try after 61 minutes, with Hanrahan edging them 30-28 in front with his sixth successful kick of the night from the left touchline.
Then he combined with Alby Mathewson for the scrumhalf to race through for the bonus-point try before Hanrahan pushed the lead out to 37-28 and they were never threatened after that.
SCORING SEQUENCE: 6 mins: T Allan pen, 3-0; 8: T Benvenuti try, Allan con, 10-0; 11: R Marshall try, JJ Hanrahan con, 10-7; 14: D Goggin try, Hanrahan con, 10-14; 19: Allan pen, 13-14; 24: Allan pen, 16-14; 26: Hanrahan pen, 16-17; 38: M Ioane try, 21-17. Half-time 21-17; 45: Penalty try, con 28-17; 49: Hanrahan pen, 28-20; 55: Hanrahan pen, 28-23; 61: S Daly try, Hanrahan con, 28-30; 68: A Mathewson try, Hanrahan con, 28-37.
BENETTON RUGBY: J Hayward; R Tavuyara, T Benvenuti, M Zanon, M Ioane; T Allan, D Duvenage; N Quaglio, L Bigi, M Riccioni; I Herbst, F Ruzza; G Pettinelli, A Steyn, T Halafihi.
Replacements: H Faiva for Bigi, C Traore for Quaglio, S Ferrari for Riccioni (all 51 mins), M Lazzaroni for Herbst (56), M Barbini for Pettinelli (58), T Tebaldi for Duvenage, A Rizzi for Benvenuti (both 62).
MUNSTER: M Haley; D Sweetnam, S Arnold, D Goggin, S Daly; JJ Hanrahan, A Mathewson; J Loughman, R Marshall, S Archer; F Wycherley, B Holland; J O’Donoghue, C Cloete, G Coombes.
Replacements: C Parker for Archer (52 mins), K O’Byrne for Marshall, L O’Connor for Loughman, D O’Shea for Wycherley, D O’Callaghan for Coombes (all 62), N Cronin for Mathewson (72), B Johnston for Hanrahan, A McHenry for Arnold (both 78).
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales).