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Arrivederci Europe: Treviso: 5 – Munster: 28

The miracle of miracles was not to be as ultimately the powerhouses of English and French rugby sewed up quarter final qualification but looking at their attendances I am sure some of them would love to have the support base of the red army which travelled in numbers to the north of Italy this weekend.  Racing Metro can afford Dan Carter but their attendances at their last 2 home games in the Champions Cup were less than 9K each!

QFs

The quarter finals – no Irish / Pro12 team for the first time in a long time!

The damage was done in December with the home defeat inflicted by Leicester or self -inflicted as 19 points would have been enough to qualify and we’ll never know how the game in Paris would have gone had it taken place as scheduled in November when Stade Francais were struggling, plenty of what-ifs and might have beens.  Interestingly Wasps lost a home game to Bath but still managed to go through on 20 points with 4 wins while Pool 2 saw all 4 teams with 3 wins each – a shock to see Clermont lose at home! – allowing Exeter through to the quarter finals for the first time.

Hopefully lessons have been learnt and we will see the intensity and performance levels required to ensure the restoration of the Thomond fortress.  I agree with Billy Holland’s view in the Examiner last week that the team need to put in a consistently high level of performance as they cannot rely purely on an emotional response.  There were some execution issues at the game in Treviso, forward passes, penalties conceded etc. but the game itself had plenty of excitement, at times being played at a barbarians pace.

Dave Foley disrupted the first Treviso lineout while his second row partner charged through to secure possession and put Munster on the front foot.  However Treviso put in a choke tackle to win the first scrum put-in.

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First scrum of the game – John Ryan won a penalty on the Treviso put-in

John Ryan won a penalty from that scrum and Keatley kicked it to find touch inside their 22m.  Donnacha secured possession, the maul was formed but not gaining traction when Murray broke from the back before passing to Ronan O’Mahony who had been lurking directly behind the maul.  He took an excellent line to score and we thought the flood gates would open early.  However handling let them down at times in the high tempo game.  A forward pass to Zebo came at the end of a breakneck passage, started when Earls had scooped up a loose pass inside the Munster 22, he took off downfield before passing to Saili, who passed to Scannell approaching half way.  He in turn passed to O’Donnell who stretched his legs as he raced into their 22 and Munster could smell the whitewash when it all came to nought due to the forward pass.

Earls and Saili were involved in another great break but Treviso turned the ball over in the tackle.  Treviso won a penalty which Ambrosini tried to kick but it fell short.  The restart by Saili had us roaring again as he raced over the half-way line before passing to Earls in support.  Did he mean to or was he intending to dummy the restart?  Whichever, it made for exciting play.  Another forward pass eventually handed possession back to Treviso but deep in their own 22.  Munster won back possession and Zebo almost got to take over the record of most tries scored but was held up, however Munster had advantage and took the penalty quickly.  Dave Kilcoyne drove on to score the second try which Ian Keatley converted to make it 0-14 in the 16th minute.

Four minutes later Munster were back on the Treviso 5m line when there was mass confusion.  The Assistant Referee spotted something and the TMO was asked to review.  Munster thought they were being awarded the penalty but the decision went against them!  From the lineout arising from that penalty, Earls rose high to gather the box kick.  He appeared to be taken out but no card was issued as #14 Pratichetti was also in the air so it was treated as a penalty but we were not impressed, seeing it as another inconsistency in how referee’s interpret and apply the rules.  The sinbinning of Ronan O’Mahony the previous week for a similar offence was fresh in our memories, but watching the game again the key difference seems to be that O’Mahony was on the ground that time.

A penalty against Foley for tackling a player without the ball gave Treviso a good attacking position, but Billy Holland stole Treviso’s lineout and Munster cleared the danger.  That penalty also earned Munster a team warning for conceding too many penalties.

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Billy Holland steals the Treviso lineout in the 33rd minute

A choke tackle which we expected to win possession for Munster instead resulted in another penalty against Foley as the Treviso player had gotten to ground.  From that Treviso lineout and maul Billy Holland found himself sent to the sinbin for entering from the side according to the referee.

Treviso scored from the next penalty when they got their maul motoring for Lazzaroni to ground the ball.  The conversion attempt, this time by Hayward came back off the post.

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An earlier mauling effort by Treviso

The Munster scrum – down a man – went in reverse giving Treviso another penalty opportunity but they were penalised at the lineout and the first half ended with a loose pass by Munster going out of play.

Munster came out fighting in the second half.  From a lineout the pack set up the maul and drove Treviso over the line despite still being down to 14.  Ian Keatley had lined up the conversion when the TMO intervened, play was stopped and the try disallowed as the verdict was that CJ had knocked on.  It seemed mad as the referee had been in the perfect position to see the score and had awarded it!

However there was no mistake on 49′ Ryan secured the lineout, Murray spotted a gap and burst through to score a try, after an outrageous dummy to wrong foot the fullback and score under the posts.  CJ Stander was taken off to a standing ovation – in recognition of his superb performances for Munster and to wish him well as he heads to Carton House to meet up with the Irish team.  He was replaced by Jack O’Donoghue.

The younger members of the team combined well to set up the 4th try.  Niall Scannell, on for Mike Sherry – put in a tackle which seemed to knock the ball out of the Treviso player’s hands, a few phases later he was on hand to take the pass from Murray after Cronin had made a break.  He in turn gave a great pass to Jack O’Donoghue about the Munster 10m line.  Jack burst through into open space and looked for support, putting in an excellent pass to Ronan O’Mahony steaming through on his outside to score.

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Ronan O’Mahony scores his second European Cup try.

A few minutes later when Treviso kicked the ball long, Saili made a dramatic attempt to touch the ball down when lying on the ground with his feet out of play to get the restart from where it had been kicked but the referee insisted on a 22 dropout instead.  You had to admire his audacity!

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There was another incident requiring TMO input in the closing minutes which led to Conor Murray being penalised for a late tackle and that was cause for the locals to call on the referee to issue a yellow card but he was happy that a penalty would suffice.

Appreciation

Post match show of appreciation for the travelling supporters. It was nice to see local youngsters on the pitch looking for autographs and selfies.

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).
Looking at the stats I was surprised to see that Treviso had the majority of possession according to these stats while the penalty count was 10 – 13.

stats

Highlights are available: http://www.epcrugby.com/matchdaytv?play=media&id=22647

There was great singing of the Munster anthems during the game while the home team supporters chanted – Lay – oh – knee or leone (lions).  The French referee Alexander Ruiz came in for a bit of abuse at times as his decision making and hand signals were confusing.  Thanks to Tony for sharing with me the 53 different official hand signals in his comment to last weeks blog.
Post match some of the supporters thawed out in the club bar while others headed for the bus to get back into town before dark.  I met Hilary and Co. in one of the many pizzeria’s later that evening and she was still buzzing about meeting some of her heroes:

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Hilary was delighted to meet several of the players after the game as supporters and players mingled.

Treviso is a small stadium and their supporters were nearly outnumbered on the day – the official attendance was just 3,200.  There are two stands – one covered with plastic seats (€20) and one uncovered with concrete seating (€10).  I was impressed by their PA announcer who made a great hand of our players names – Donnacha was obviously a challenge (Dun-ich) as were O’Donoghue and Niall.

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Handy beer “tray” – we even saw a bar man carrying one up for one supporter who was buying a large round!

The minis were very involved – forming the guard of honour, during the game they all sat together, with one of the teams was assigned to support Munster and they had a lively game at half time.  I was surprised by the high numbers on their jerseys.  Also at half-time two kids had an opportunity to push an adult player back using tackle pads which they enjoyed and when successfully pushing him over the line they won a mini ball.

Congratulations to Alberto Sgarbi on his 150th cap in the game which marked Munster’s 150th appearance in Europe.

The Gathering

This week’s social section is called “The Gathering” as it was like a big reunion meeting various characters from matches and especially away trips over the past three seasons!

The trip had been planned once the sequence of games had been announced but prior to kick-off times being finalised so we went for the long weekend – Friday through Monday.  Planes brought the foot soldiers from Cork, Limerick and Dublin while others from within the UK also gathered at Stansted.  It was great to leave the rain behind at Stansted and be greeted by blue skies as we arrived at Treviso-Venice on the Friday afternoon.

At Stansted, Kathleen who I only met last month, getting the MRSC London train to Leicester recognised me and introduced me and my blog to her friend Shona.  On the plane Ian – met last year in Clermont – saw me board and called out hello, and later as we walked into the Treviso terminal he came over to encourage me to keep the blog going.  Coincidentally he was seated beside us at the match again this time and was giving me input to this weeks match report.  The people on the other side of me at the game did not seem to be in the glass half full category so did not get my blog “pitch”.  Also on that flight were Audrey and Paul – met for the first time at the Pro12 semi-final in Glasgow – plus Linda (Paul’s wife who won the Charlie Mulqueen book competition) so it was great to recognise so many friendly faces.

On Saturday morning many of the red army headed into Venice as it was only a short train ride away.  Outside our hotel we met Frank and John – regulars at the MRSC Dublin gatherings and originally met returning from the Sale game last season where I had asked them to check out the blog as we waited to board the Aer Arann flight home. Frank was a mine of information re train times and the right station to get out at in Venice – see my travel blog https://hattisar.wordpress.com/2016/01/28/treviso-venice-2016/.  Then as we waited to board the train who came over to say hello but Gerry – whose spare ticket had a starring role in the Clermont away blog and he himself had made an appearance in the Pro 12 semi-final blog.  I could not place him at first but once he mentioned Clermont it came back to me and we enjoyed a great chat all the way to Venice.  We then seemed to meet Gerry and Dympna at every turn as often happens!

On Sunday morning as we headed to get the no. 9 bus to the game the Thurles gang of Hilary, Dee and Joe spotted me and gave me a great welcome, while on the bus Aideen reminded me that we had met returning from the Perpignan away game and she had been following the blog ever since so I got plenty of positive feedback to encourage me to carry on which was much appreciated.

The stadium was about a 20 minute drive from the city and the bus was quickly filled by the red army, even though there was still over 2 hours before kick-off.   We could see the stadium but no one knew where the bus stop was and as no one pressed the bell the driver kept going so we had a short walk back.  There were some supporters waiting already and the gates opened shortly after we arrived.  There was food and drink on sale including hot wine which went down well as while it was sunny it was only about 4C and in the stand it was cold.  It grew cloudy as the afternoon progressed so by the time the match was over we were chilled despite the thermal layers.

I did not think I would have an opportunity to promote my blog on the flight back as Kevin and Susan were travelling incognito- i.e. not in red – so I was delighted to discover that they also share a love for Munster and we chatted about rugby in general for most of the journey to Stansted.

If you enjoy my blog I would be delighted if you would share it with friends –via word of mouth, facebook or twitter – it all helps as the views and positive comments keep me going.  Remember you can follow me on facebook/WTView where I have saved some other photos I took at the game, Twitter (@WTView) and if you don’t want to miss future editions you can sign up to get an email notification when I publish.  Thank you.

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Getting in on the Venetian Carnival “look” which started at the weekend.

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17 comments on “Arrivederci Europe: Treviso: 5 – Munster: 28

  1. Another great write up, Gayl. I always enjoy reading about the game and the social side of things. For your information, I’m still buzzing and I will cherish the memories of meeting the team for a long, long time.

  2. Bravissimo Gayl. Great to read about Munster Supporters in Treviso in large numbers and in great voice. Excellent bonus try win by the team. Hopefully they can carry that performance into the next GuinnessPro12 away match against Zebre at the end of the month.

    • You’re on the ball early this week Tony and you will be glad to know that so far 2 people have clicked your link re hand signals! It wasn’t perfectly executed but the energy and excitement levels were good and I would definitely recommend Treviso for a weekend away. The working title of that travel blog I will write up is “Fur coats and prosecco”. Should be written up over the weekend. Cheers

  3. it really was a lovely trip, and Venezia in Carnevale mode was an unexpected bonus. I loved how the players mingled afterwards

    • I would definitely recommend it as a place to visit. I was surprised by how big the city was, population 83k according to wikipedia, great, cheap bus service to the airport and match, and with such reasonable food and drink prices it was good value too. €1.30 for a coffee, €3 for a crepe, €6 for a large pizza, €10 for a MAGNUM of Prosecco….lovely buildings to explore and just a great place to wander around. Great rugby away weekend.

  4. From James on Facebook: Keep up the great work! It’s great to get a well written and balanced view after each game!
    From Helen on Twitter: Keep up good work Gayl great blog as usual, reading it felt I was there

  5. Well done Gayl, another good report and I was glad to see your comments about inconsistent refereeing on tackling in the air. Shocking news on Earlsy this am.

    • Thanks Ian, I deliberately used your words re Murray’s outrageous tackle! You were well impressed by it. I am keeping my head in the sand re Earls! Until it is official I am hopeful they will reach a deal like they did with James Cronin despite the media having him gone also.
      Maybe see you in Cork for the Ospreys game in the Red Shed?

      Updated later on 27th – great to see Earls and Murray have both signed 3 year extensions!!!

      • It would be great if the media are wrong, but hopefully it won’t go like Marty Moore. Yes we will be in Red Shed V Ospreys and look forward to seeing you there.

  6. Great blog again and nice to finish in Europe with a win great news re Earls and Murray looking forward to the 6 nations.

    • Thanks Peter, glad you enjoyed it. Delighted that 2 key players have signed up for another 3 years. The rumours / media are like the boy who cried wolf with all their “scoops”
      Will be interesting to see how Ireland fare in the 6N, there has definitely been a world cup hangover affecting some players but hopefully they will be primed and ready to go come kick-off against Wales! Hope CJ is there too.

  7. Great detail and a great write-up! Three outstanding things from the trip for me were:
    The beauty of Treviso and how friendly the locals were; still a great level of affection and support for our team from the travelling fans; and the contribution of Leoni team and fans to a really enjoyable game.

    • Thanks Aupa, I agree wholeheartedly. I have some good photos of Treviso in my travel blog linked to from this rugby blog which can give people an idea of how lovely a place it is. Definitely a great place to visit. The Red Army did itself proud also and it was great to see in the past 2 games after all the doom and gloom around Christmas. We are not where we want to be yet but there are some great young players coming through and with Peter to return I hope we will be in contention for Pro12 honours this season.

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