Munster move up to third
January 7, 2012
Ronan O'Gara was on target with three conversions and one penalty
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Munster reclaimed third place in the RaboDirect PRO12 thanks to a bonus point 29-11 victory over Benetton Treviso at Thomond Park.
Niall Ronan registered the only try of the opening 40 minutes, with Treviso's Kris Burton converting two of his three penalty opportunities. Munster improved their 10-6 half-time lead with a converted effort from Keith Earls, only for Manoa Vosawai to hit back with a try for Treviso within four minutes.
But man-of-the-match James Coughlan crossed for a deserved score and Simon Zebo's late touchdown confirmed a five-point haul for the province.
Treviso, who travelled over early on Friday, were clearly up for this one having already won in Ulster and Connacht this season. Burton kicked the opening points for the Italians, but Munster threatened straight from the restart with Ronan called back for a forward pass from Conor Murray.
A well-orchestrated maul from the hosts ignited their attack again, but Wian du Preez knocked on with a try looking likely. They remained on the front foot for Ronan O'Gara to draw them level with a 19th-minute penalty.
There was a degree of rustiness to Munster's play but with 24 minutes on the clock, flanker Ronan raced onto Lifeimi Mafi's inviting offload and showed a clean pair of heels to the Treviso cover to go over for the opening try. O'Gara converted but then missed a difficult penalty attempt from the left, after Treviso were shunted back in a scrum.
A crisply-struck penalty from Burton then punished Donncha O'Callaghan for going offside, leaving Franco Smith's men well in touch at the turnaround just four points behind. They might have been in an even better position at the break but blew a great counter-attacking chance, and Burton also struck the woodwork with a difficult penalty.
The early stages of the second period were scrappy with Treviso using a decent platform of possession to cause Munster problems. But lovely footwork from Earls saw him burst away from Burton and go in under the posts for a try that helped settle Tony McGahan's side, with O'Gara converting. There were no signs of the Italians wilting though.
A well-worked lineout set up by captain Antonio Pavanello led to big Fijian Vosawai being driven over from a few metres out. Burton failed to convert from wide out on the left and it was Munster's turn to find another gear, Murray going close before Coughlan's drive over from close range was rubber-stamped by television match official Seamus Flannery. O'Gara converted to make it 24-11 and all but settle the match as a contest.
Brendan Williams blocked a Mafi pass with another home try on the cards as the defensive work ultimately took its toll on the Italian outfit. The visitors defence was breached once more when a good carry from Coughlan and neat passing from Ian Keatley preceded Zebo's try in the corner, before frustration got the better of Treviso replacement Simon Picone who received a red card in the final seconds.
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