Munster 46 Treviso 3: Rassie Erasmus is moving closer to achieving one of his most coveted ambitions since taking over as Munster’s Director of Rugby.
He wants at least two quality players fighting battling for each position and after a series of excellent displays it appears he may be exceeding that aim in several key areas.
Saturday’s seven try, 46-3 Guinness PRO12 rout of Treviso was little more than a training run but it had the significance of sending Munster to the top of the table. If nothing else, the game demonstrated that Erasmus faces the kind of headache that every coach claims to love in piecing together his best options on both wings and at full-back and in every row of the pack.
Most believe that when it comes to naming the side to meet Leicester Tigers in the European Champions Cup on Saturday week that Simon Zebo and Keith Earls will return from international duty to fill the number 15 and 11 jerseys. However, that would leave Andrew Conway and Ronan O’Mahony out in the cold and that would seem harsh indeed on a couple of players who scored two tries each on Saturday.
Erasmus would also be expected to see Munster best represented against the Tigers by a back five of Donnacha Ryan and Billy Holland in the second-row and a back-row of Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander and Tommy O’Donnell. Few would complain at such a scenario except that the likes of Darren O’Shea and Robin Copeland have been putting their hands up during the international break while the powerful South African Jean Kleyn and Dave Foley have returned after injury and must also come into the picture.
“There will be a lot of decision making around team selection”, acknowledged Erasmus. “We are always moaning about the rich clubs having all the money and all the players so when for once we get into a position where we have good options , we must enjoy the moment and make the right selections and give all the guys motivation. It’s a nice headache to have. I’d be lying if I say we’re not mentally in a good place.
For sure, there will be no repeat of Saturday’s stroll against Treviso in a programme that includes four European Cup games and a Pro 12 clash with Leinster. A certain lethargy seemed to dominate the group for much of Saturday when Conway and O’Mahony scored two tries each and one apiece coming from Robin Copeland, Darren O’Shea and Alex Wootton. Tyler Bleyendaal landed a penalty and three conversions and Ian Keatley one conversion. Ian McKinley kicked an early penalty for Treviso.
A Conway; D Sweetnam, S Arnold, J Taute, R O’Mahony; T Bleyendaal, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, R Marshall, J Ryan, D Foley, D O’Shea, J O’Donoghue, T O’Donnell capt, R Copeland.
T Du Toit for Kilcoyne (46); B Holland for O’Donnell (51); J Kleyn for Foley (53); A Wootton for Sweetnam (56); N Scannell and S Archer for Marshall and Ryan, (both 61); A Lloyd and I Keatley for Williams and Bleyendaal (both 66).
J Hayward; M Tagicakibau, M Iannone, A Sgarbi capt, L Sperandio; I McKinley, T Tebaldi; A Di Marchi, L Bigi, A Matteo, F Gerosa, M Van Vuren, M Lazzaroni, F Ferrarini, M Barbini.
O David for D Giazzon and T Pasqali for Bibi and Pasqqali (both 50); S Roberto for Gerosa (48); P Tizziano for Matteo (51); A Prattichetti and F Zani for Luca for Sperandio and Di Marchi (both 56); F Conforti for Van Vuren (62).
M Adamson (Scotland).
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