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Win sees Munster move into second Rabo spot



Munster 14, Treviso 3:

THIS was hardly one of Munster’s typically spirited displays but the win keeps them in the chase for a home semi-final in this season’s RaboDirect Pro 12 League. Much of their play was scrappy to say the least but there some outstanding individual performances, particularly from Felix Jones at full-back, Keith Earls and Paddy Butler. Jones’s display must have caught the attention of Irish coach Joe Schmidt and the player will get the chance to build on this display when he takes the field on the bigger stage of the Aviva Stadium in a week’s time.

Treviso got the first score tonight with a penalty from their out-half Mat Berquist after just two minutes but that was to be their first and last score. Their defence, however, was magnificent and midway through the second period the goal of four tries began to slip painfully from Munster’s radar. Their first try came as a result of a training ground move, Dave Foley palming a lineout ball into the hands of Paddy Butler and opening the gap for JJ Hanrahan to place Keith Earls for a lovely try which Hanrahan converted: 7-3 to the home side with 36 minutes played.

Munster showed more purpose as the second half gone underway but after being awarded seven successive scrums close to the Treviso line, they conceded a penalty and the chance was lost. The were rewarded for their constant pressure on 55 minutes, James Downey squeezing in near the touchline and Hanrahan adding the extras and with two tries in the bag and a 14-3 lead it looked as if the reds would push on for the bonus point victory.

Treviso did not roll over and were certainly keen to show that Italian rugby is not as bad as results in the Six Nations have indicated. The tackled incessantly and with the Munster threequarter line going down too many narrow alleys and relying on the boot too often to set up attacks, the chance of a third try quickly and painfully diminished. Treviso went closest to scoring a late try, centre Campagnaro dropping the pass with a man outside him and the try line beckoning.

This was a poor show by Munster but they still got the victory that makes next week-end’s ‘old firm’ derby all the more mouth-watering. Huge improvement is needed before they take the field at the Aviva and even though they will be boosted by the return of O’Connell (who withdrew late from the squad tonight with a ‘niggle’), O’Mahony and Murray, a performance like this one will be unlikely to reslt in a rare victory over the boys in blue in the Aviva.

Half time, Munster 7, Treviso 3
A TRY from Keith Earls just before the break gave the home side a narrow lead tonight in Thomond Park in the RaboDirect. JJ Hanrahan converted while Mat Berquist landed a Treviso penalty after just two minutes.
.Munster: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Johne Murphy; JJ Hanrahan, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Damien Varley (Capt.), John Ryan; Billy Holland, Dave Foley, Donnacha Ryan, Sean Dougall, Paddy Butler. Replacements: Quentin MacDonald, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Donncha O’Callaghan, CJ Stander, Gerry Hurley, Ian Keatley, Simon Zebo.

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