After this rather stop-start clash with gritty Italian opponents Treviso at Musgrave Park, Munster head coach Anthony Foley expressed himself satisfied with the outcome although not necessarily with the performance
“We got everything we could out of the game, five points that puts us into the semi-finals, so that is good in one respect but we did say going into the game that we were going to get a physical contest and we surely got that.
“We invited a lot of that on ourselves as well. We had them on the rack at 13 nil up and gave away a soft penalty when they were going backwards. After that they got another couple of penalties from which they managed to get two goes at a maul against us and we didn’t manage to hold it out which is something we need to fix.”
Munster scored four tries but conceded three, one through the middle of the field, another out wide and then that lapse at maul time.
If Foley was annoyed, skipper Peter O’Mahony was furious with the latter: “To concede a try off first phase is unacceptable from our point of view. We have work to do, we’re coming up against stronger teams over the next couple of weeks so we’re going to have to learn fast.”
Foley will have reason to feel better when he is shown a review of the Munster scrum which caused Treviso endless problems and ultimately forced them to concede a penalty try which gave his side the crucial bonus point to edge them into second place behind leaders Glasgow and just above Ulster and the Ospreys. Foley agreed: “Dave (Kilcoyne), Duncan (Casey) and Stevie (Archer) scrummed well in the first half and when BJ (Botha), Eusebio (Guinazu) and John (Ryan) came on we totally dominated, once we got into the corner we went for the scrum and stayed there until we got the try.”
Munster’s second half display was not nearly as good. But Foley gave some credit to Treviso for their approach on the restart: “No doubt, we played a lot better in the first half than the second which is probably down to the fact that we got a lot more ball. The second half was quite frustrating in terms of our use of ball but sometimes you have to give them (opposition) credit, they brought us through phases and frustrated us for a long time.”
It was all Munster from the early stages, with Ian Keatley opening the scoring with a penalty. The out half missed a couple of subsequent kicks but Munster moved into an impressive 13-0 lead with tries from Simon Zebo and CJ Stander inside the opening quarter. Within a few minutes, however, Treviso were back in the game courtesy of a try from Matthew Luamanu off a powerful maul and Jaden Hayward converted.
There was to be no panic in the Munster ranks as they kept plugging away, scorning kicks at goal for territory in the hope of another try. It came on the stroke of half time from man of the match Tommy O’Donnell and Keatley converted for a half time lead of 20-7.
Treviso battled on though with Andrea Pratichetti and Simone Rigusi tries, one of them converted by Hayward, on either side of that penalty try, a penalty and conversion from Keatley.
Although Foley will be concerned with a knock suffered late on by Felix Jones, and with aspects of the Munster defence, he was delighted with the comeback display from Donnacha Ryan in for his first start in 13 months.
“It’s great to see him back, obviously he has still a few things such as battle hardness (to consider) so that’s why we left him there for the 80 minutes and to take over the line out calling in the latter part of the game.
F Jones; K Earls, A Smith, R Scannell, S Zebo; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, D Casey, S Archer; B Holland, D Ryan; P O’Mahony (captain), T O’Donnell, CJ Stander.
R O’Mahony for Jones (injured, 52), BJ Botha for Archer (53), E Guinazu for Casey (56), JJ Hanrahan for Scannell (68), Donncha O’Callaghan for Holland, Dave O’Callaghan for O’Mahony, J Ryan for Kilcoyne, D Williams for Murray (all 70).
J Hayward, S Rigusi, L Morisi, A Pratichetti, L Nigoglia, S Christie, E Gori, M Zanusso, D Giazzon, R Harden, M Fuser, C Van Zyl (captain), P Derbyshire, F Minto, M Luamanu.
M Lazzaroni for Derbyshire (57), A Anae for Gioazzon, R Acosta for Harden (both 61), J Novack for Zanusso (68), M Swanepoel for Van Zyl (both 71), N Cattina for Luamanu (77), J Ambrosini for Ragusi (78).