Munster reserves out to impress against Benetton
Just two players set to start in Champions Cup semi-final to play in Pro14 clash
Mike Haley is among the two players expected to start in the Champions Cup semi-final which will also play against Benetton in the Pro14. Photograph: Inpho
Benetton Treviso v Munster
Stadio Monigo, 7pm – Eir Sport
Understandably, with Saracens waiting in Coventry next weekend, Munster coach Johann van Graan names only two players that are expected to start the Champions Cup semi-final.
Mike Haley at fullback and Jack O’Donoghue or Chris Cloete at openside should reappear in eight days time. The rest, barring injury elsewhere, will be reserves at best.
Ulster cannot rely on a provincial favour here, which means they must fend off Edinburgh to stay on course for a home Pro 14 quarter-final, which is likely to be against Connacht if results go according to form. Considering Munster have already secured a home quarter, against Treviso as it currently stands, the travel required for this fixture enters the realm of annoyance. The squad reflects as much with all the Irish internationals kept on ice back in the University of Limerick.
Plenty of individual motivation remains with temporary captain Billy Holland, the entire front row and the aforementioned flankers in search of a tune-up. It’s safe to assume every single one of them will be needed if Munster are to reach a European final for the first time in 11 years.
All things considered, it seems impossible for them to maintain focus on a game that does matter to Benetton. The Italians might even label it the most important match in the club’s 87 year history. Victory, of any sort, should see them make the play-offs and a probable quarter-final in Limerick with a Dublin semi-final against Leinster to follow if they can keep their best ever season on track.
Such contrasting motivations lean the result in only one direction.
Benetton: Jayden Hayward; Ratuva Tavuyara, Tommaso Benvenuti, Marco Zanon, Monty Ioane; Tommaso Allan (capt), Dewaldt Duvenage; Nicola Quaglio, Luca Bigi, Marco Riccioni; Irné Herbst, Federico Ruzza; Sebastian Negri, Abraham Steyn, Toa Halafihi. Replacements: Hame Faiva, Cherif Traore, Simone Ferrari, Marco Lazzaroni, Giovanni Pettinelli, Tito Tebaldi, Antonio Rizzi, Tommaso Iannone.
Munster: Mike Haley; Darren Sweetnam, Sammy Arnold, Dan Goggin, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson; Jeremy Loughman, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Fineen Wycherley, Billy Holland (capt); Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete, Gavin Coombes. Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, Ciaran Parker, Darren O’Shea, Dave O’Callaghan, Neil Cronin, Bill Johnston, Alex McHenry.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU).
Verdict: Treviso win.