Benetton Treviso 5 Munster 28
Munster bowed out of the Champions Cup with a second consecutive win in Pool 4 as they brushed aside Treviso with four tries on a chilly Sunday afternoon at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo.
Two tries for wing Ronan O'Mahony, the 26-year-old's first in Europe, bookended scores for prop Dave Kilcoyne and scrum-half Conor Murray as Anthony Foley's side completed a second consecutive bonus-point win but it will be the lack of losing bonus points against Leicester and Stade Francais that will haunt this campaign for a while to come.
On the final day of the pool phase, this was the only game of the day with nothing riding on it following Saturday's results, when wins for Toulon, Northampton and Ulster put a best runner-up berth beyond Munster.
This was, though, the province's 150th top-level European match and the Reds got off to a flyer. Ronan O'Mahony collected the ball on the Treviso 22 from a fourth minute maul and eyeing a gap in the home defensive line on its fringes, the wing sprinted over the line for his first Champions Cup try. Keatley converted and the fly-half was back in front of the posts 12 minutes later to convert another five-pointer, this time from prop Dave Kilcoyne, who piled over after captain and Ireland call-up CJ Stander caught Treviso napping with a quick tap penalty.
With two converted tries to the good and Treviso fly-half James Ambrosini missing two penalty kicks, Munster were looking comfortable and in control but there was still time for a mini meltdown just before the break when a series of penalty concessions around the ruck from the visitors led to a yellow card for flanker Billy Holland from French referee Alexandre Ruiz when he penalised a transgression at the maul.
The impact was instant, Treviso kicking back into the corner and scoring from the lineout drive against a depleted Munster defence as blindside flanker Marco Lazzaroni grabbed the try.
Full-back Jayden Hayward took over kicking duties from Ambrosini and duly missed the conversion five metres in from the right flank but there was further disarray in the Munster ranks when Keatley fluffed the restart, failing to clear 10 metres and then conceded the subsequent scrum penalty, the first half ending even more scrappily for the visitors moments later when Simon Zebo threw a pass behind O'Mahony and into touch.
Against Leicester at home, Munster had paid a heavy price for a similar pre-interval wobble and the home loss in round three set the tone for their Champions Cup elimination. There were no such consequences here though as Munster, 14-5 up, regathered their senses after the break and set about chasing a try bonus point.
They crossed the line three minutes into the second half when the pack rolled over only for referee Alexandre Ruiz to disrupt Keatley's preparations for the conversion by calling in the TMO and then ruling out the try over the grounding.
No matter, Munster's next lineout close in produced the goods, Conor Murray getting the ball off the top and spotting a gap at the tail to break the Treviso line and score under the posts, Kealtey this time allowed to complete the conversion as Munster took a 21-5 lead with three tries scored after 50 minutes.
The fourth came amid a flurry of substitutions as Munster cut Treviso apart, incoming No.8 Jack O'Donoghue supplying the final pass for O'Mahony to double his tally in the 66th minute, Keatley maintaining his 100 per cent record off the tee with the conversion from close to the left touchline as Munster stretched their lead and grabbed the expected bonus point against the Pool 4 whipping boys, whose winless streak now extends to 25 games.
Another day for the Italians to forget, and for Munster a bittersweet end to a fruitless European campaign.
BENETTON TREVISO: J Hayward; A Pratichetti, E Bacchin (S Christie, 63), A Sgarbi, S Ragusi (T Iannone, 45); J Ambrosini (L McLean, 67), A Lucchese; M Zanusso (A De Marchi, 63), O Gega (D Giazzon, 45), S Ferrari (S Manu, 45); M Fuser, J-F Montauriol (T Palmer, 45); M Lazzaroni (M Barbini, 63), A Zanni - captain, A Steyn.
MUNSTER: S Zebo; K Earls, F Saili, R Scannell (G van den Heever, 68), R O'Mahony; I Keatley, C Murray (T O'Leary, 73); D Kilcoyne (J Cronin, 45), M Sherry (N Scannell, 63), J Ryan (M Sagario, 67); D Foley (M Chisholm, 68), D Ryan; B Holland (R Copeland, 63), T O'Donnell, CJ Stander – captain (J O'Donoghue, 54).
Yellow card: Holland 36-46
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)