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Dublin: 6°C Friday 4 December 2020

Try analysis: Munster pull out a set-piece beauty for TOD touchdown

Anthony Foley’s side carried out a highly effective lineout move to break down Treviso.

MUNSTER LEFT THEMSELVES with plenty to work on after a 30-19 win over Treviso in Musgrave Park on Saturday afternoon, as they plan ahead to an exciting Guinness Pro12 clash with Ulster in Belfast on 9 May.

Giving up three tries to the Italians will have frustrated head coach Anthony Foley and defence specialist Ian Costello, but there were positives in the performance too.

Perhaps most satisfying of all was the Tommy O’Donnell try just before half time.


Set-piece attack is something every rugby team spends lots of their training time on. Doing otherwise would be foolhardy, as set-piece attack is something that can be planned for and practiced repeatedly.

To see those detailed pre-agreed moves bear fruit after persistent effort away from match day is hugely rewarding for both coaches and players. Munster got a nice taste of that with the above score.

The key men in this play are the three at the front of the initial lineout formation, Dave Kilcoyne, Tommy O’Donnell and CJ Stander [highlighted in yellow below].

Front Pod

It’s the motion of this trio that allows Munster to break through behind the lineout, as they loop from their starting position as a dummy jumping pod around to scrum-half Conor Murray, who is also in motion.

A really important factor in this lineout move is that Treviso are expecting Munster to maul after they win the lineout. Bang on the 22, this is the kind of position from which Foley’s side so often maul the ball.

Treviso are wary of that and look to cut the maul off at source by competing with Peter O’Mahony in the air at the tail of the lineout. A little dummy run by Donnacha Ryan just before the throw gives O’Mahony an advantage against the competing Francesco Minto and Treviso’s spoiling intention is foiled.


As O’Mahony is winning the ball in the air, his teammates are already in motion. Kilcoyne, O’Donnell and Stander are arcing from that starting position at the front around to the tail of the catch.

Murray is also in movement, making his way towards O’Mahony’s pod to collect the ball, having started in a hidden position just on the five-metre line.


As Munster get around the corner, Murray is left with four passing options. He has Kilcoyne [1] inside him, O’Donnell [2] starting from behind and fading out to the scrum-half’s left shoulder, Stander [3] on a short pass to the left, and Rory Scannell [4] on a longer pass to his left.

There’s also the possibility that Murray himself will continue his run, as Treviso know he often does.

It leaves Treviso in a tough defensive position, with decisions to make at high speed. Number eight Matthew Luamanu is the tailgunner for the Italians, having started just inside the 15-metre line as the lineout formed.

Luamanu is joined on his inside by hooker Davide Giazzon, who has lifted Minto at the back before turning and racing to get across and cover the darting Conor Murray.

Sitting Down.1

However, with Murray running at pace, Luamanu feels he can’t simply leave the Munster scrum-half to make progress and the Treviso number eight sits down, essentially meaning that Treviso have two players biting down on Murray.

Sitting Down

That in turn means there is likely to be space on the outside of Luamanu, particularly as the Treviso backs have had to start 10 metres back from the initial lineout. A misread by the first defender in that line, Ludovico Nitoglia, compounds the errors inside him.

As highlighted below, the wing initially picks out the runs of Stander and Scannell as the threats he needs to target defensively.

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The slightly delayed arrival of O’Donnell onto Murray’s left shoulder makes it that bit more difficult to come up with a good read, as does the pace at which Munster’s runners are moving.

It’s only as Murray releases the subtle pop to O’Donnell that Nitoglia realises the error of his read, and though he attempts to get a low tackle in on the Munster openside flanker it’s too late to make it an effective one.

With Nitoglia having started up in the defensive line, there’s obviously no left wing covering across to make a tackle on O’Donnell in behind and fullback Jayden Hayward has started across to Treviso’s right-hand side.

The Tipp man shows his pace and power to finish well.

Treviso will bemoan their poor defensive effort for this try, but it’s the intelligent, high-paced play of Munster that lures the Italians into making the errors. All the little details from Foley’s side are accurate, including the little blocking movement by Stephen Archer we see below.

Archer Block

Having lifted O’Mahony from the back, Archer brings the blindside flanker to ground and then immediately turns to look for a second job. As we can see above, that comes in the form of engaging with opposite number Rupert Harden.

Realistically, Harden wouldn’t have shifted out the pitch to tackle either Murray or O’Donnell, but it’s still intelligent play from Archer. The 27-year-old is looking for any marginal way he can potentially influence play, something coaches love in a player.

The various elements come together ideally for Munster, each man performing his role as planned for. A hugely enjoyable try is the result, and Foley will be looking for a couple of similar efforts against Ulster in a fortnight’s time.

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Murray Kinsella

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