In last week’s blog I wrote that I hoped Munster would rediscover their mojo in Treviso, so I was amused to read that phrase in the match report by Paulo Bentino in the Irish Examiner on Saturday! My use of sporting clichés would not impress my former English teachers. Due to the lack of TV coverage from Treviso, Friday night was spent refreshing https://twitter.com/Munsterrugby which was frequently updated to give us a sense of the action. I also had the TV on and was flicking between the Ulster game v Zebre on BBC2 (to check out the form of Zebre, our opponents next week) and the Connacht trip to Edinburgh on TG4. There were amusing tweets to keep me entertained, including the raging debate in the O’Brien household on the relative merits of CJ Stander v Simon Zebo, while Damien expressed concern he had jinxed a player when following his positive tweet the next update was that said player was receiving medical attention. Nothing major thankfully. I was delighted that Ian Keatley had a good night with his kicks at goal after a poor return the previous weekend and was not surprised at all to see CJ Stander score another try, his third of the season, making him the top try scorer in the league after two rounds. Simon Zebo also got on the scoresheet in the second half.
TG4 included 7-8 minutes of highlights in their round up of the weekend late on Saturday night. The coverage was limited to 1 camera so no replays from various angles etc. but it was better than nothing. I would have liked to have seen more in the highlights of the backrow of Stander, O’Donnell and Copeland (making his competitive debut for Munster thanks to a replacement passport when his was stolen during the week) as that should be a powerful unit with three good ball carriers but the highlights did not show enough to judge yet.
Captain Felix Jones made good ground despite the attentions of a tackler in the early exchanges. Keatley’s first penalty was from just inside the 10m line after a Treviso player was offside to go 0-3 up. Next after an excellent lineout take by Dave Foley, Munster showed good patience in the maul before Andrew Conway burst through to take a reverse pass from Duncan Williams. He was unlucky not to score an early try for Munster when he got so close to the goalpost. I was surprised it did not get reviewed by the TMO to see if he had touched the padding, but there probably was no TMO…
However, it was Treviso who scored the first try, also off a lineout, they cut back inside and quickly spun it wide to the fullback Ragusi to score. Ian Keatley reduced the gap to 1 point with his second successful penalty after Treviso collapsed a scrum right in front of their posts.
Munster’s first try was the result of building up phases with good breaks by Ivan Dineen to set it up originally off the lineout, more ground was made by O’Donnell before Ian Keatley cut through the defence and brought play up into the Treviso 22. Cronin, Stander, Casey, Archer, Stander, Casey, all took it on while the others hit the rucks in support as Williams marshalled his forwards until finally it was Stander who touched down. It was great to see the increased levels of physicality and patience to go through the phases to secure the score.
Zebo’s try resulted from a box kick from Treviso which was allowed to bounce and claimed by (I think) James Cronin. He set up a quick ball via Williams to Zebo who raced down the wing to score. Unfortunately the kick from the sideline was not converted. Treviso scored another 3 points when awarded a penalty as did Ian Keatley this time from just inside his own half after Munster again put the pressure on the Italian scrum. Conway also showed his pace late in the game when he chased back to the 5m line to prevent Treviso scoring from a kick ahead. Billy Holland dived on another loose ball to thwart Treviso from mounting a final challenge to secure a losing bonus point and so it ended 10-21. Hard to tell from the highlights if they have found their mojo, hence the question mark in the title but it is definitely a step in the right direction given their history in Treviso.
Overall a great weekend for Irish teams with 4 wins from 4. I was shouting at Connacht to kick it out when they turned over a final effort from Edinburgh to pull off a great away win. Ulster and Leinster scored plenty of tries with Ulster leaving some behind them such as Rory Best’s fumble with the line at his mercy so there are still some new season cobwebs about in all the provinces. Next Friday Zebre come to Thomond Park but again it is not televised. Hopefully the Indian summer will hold and a good crowd will be able to come along to support the team as they continue to build momentum. Isn’t it ironic (in the Alanis Morissette sense) that Zebre played in sunshine in Ulster while Munster played on a heavy wet pitch in Italy!
Treviso – S Ragusi (A Esposito 52); L Nitoglia, L Morisi, S Christie, M Campagnaro; J Carlisle, H Seniloli (J Ambrosini 60); M Muccignat (M Zanusso 71), D Giazzon, R Harden (S Manu 52); M Fuser, C van Zyl (capt); M Swanepoel (M Barbini 32), T Vallejos Cinalli, M Luamanu (M Lazzaroni 60).
Munster – F Jones (capt); A Conway, A Smith, I Dineen, S Zebo; I Keatley, D Williams (C Sheridan 65); J Cronin (J Ryan 73), D Casey (K O’Byrne 77), S Archer (BJ Botha 56); D Foley (D O’Callaghan 74), B Holland; CJ Stander, T O’Donnell (S Dougall 74), R Copeland.
Pro12 Highlights – much shorter than the Tg4 version but accessible everywhere:
If the TG4 player works for you the Treviso game is at the start of part 2 so you have to go to end of part 1 (Leinster v Scarlets, then the ads and then view Treviso game) http://nasc.tg4.tv/1sYbYcF