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Four-try Munster go top with come-from-behind victory in Treviso thriller

Van Graan’s men overcame an 11-point second-half deficit to win by nine against Benetton.

The southern province have replaced Glasgow atop Conference A, at least temporarily.
The southern province have replaced Glasgow atop Conference A, at least temporarily.
Image: Elena Barbini/INPHO

Benetton Rugby 28

Munster 37

John Fallon reports from Stadio Monigo

AN UNDERSTRENGTH MUNSTER side came from behind to carve out a bonus-point win in a highly entertaining Guinness Pro14 clash with play-off chasing Benetton in northern Italy.

Johann van Graan’s men came from 11 points adrift with JJ Hanrahan leading the way as they put a dent in Benetton’s hopes if making it to the knockout stages.

The lead changed hands four times in the opening 26 minutes of a cracking encounter in front of a full house of around 7,000 on a perfect night for rugby in Treviso.

JJ Hanrahan kicks JJ Hanrahan was man of the match in Treviso. Source: Elena Barbini/INPHO

Benetton had the home fans on their feet as they raced into a 10-0 lead after just eight minutes with Italian centre Tommaso Benvenuti getting the opening try as Fijian winger Ratuva Tavuyara thrilled the crowd with an array of skills.

But Munster hit back with Rhys Marshall getting over for a try after going to the right corner with a penalty and they hit the front after 14 minutes after Dan Goggin intercepted after a big hit by Sam Arnold in midfield had initially created the opening.

JJ Hanrahan converted both tries to lead 14-10 but two penalties from Tommaso Allan edged the Italians back in front before a penalty from Hanrahan restored Munster’s lead after 26 minutes.

But it was Benetton who led at the interval after a superb break from Jayden Hayward send Monty Ioane away down the left and the Australian cantered home to leave the score at 21-17.

Munster suffered a massive double blow after 45 minutes with Darren Sweetnam binned for a deliberate knock-on and referee Ben Whitehouse awarded a penalty try to make it 28-17 to Benetton.

But two Hanrahan penalties and a yellow card for Benvenuti — who was fortunate to remain on the pitch after a high challenge on Stephen Archer — cut the gap to 28-23 heading into the final quarter.

Tommaso Benvenuti scores a try Tommaso Benvenuti scored a try, but was later lucky to stay on the pitch. Source: Elena Barbini/INPHO

Munster drew level when Goggin put Shane Daly over for his first Munster try after 61 minutes, with Hanrahan edging them 30-28 in front with his sixth successful kick of the night from the left touchline.

Man of the match Hanrahan then combined with Alby Mathewson for the scrum-half to race through for the bonus-point try before the out-half pushed the lead out to 37-28.

Munster were never threatened after that and move two points clear of Glasgow in top spot in Conference A, with the second-placed Scots in action in Dublin tomorrow.

Scorers for Benetton Rugby:
Tries: Tommaso Benvenuti, Monty Ioane, Penalty try
Penalties: Tommaso Allen 3/3
Conversions: Tommaso Allen 1/2, Penalty try

Scorers for Munster:
Tries: Rhys Marshall, Dan Goggin, Shane Daly, Alby Mathewson
Penalties: JJ Hanrahan 3/3
Conversions: JJ Hanrahan 4/4

Benetton Rugby: Jayden Hayward; Ratuva Tavuyara, Tommaso Benvenuti (Antonio Rizzi ’69), Marco Zanon, Monty Ioane; Tommaso Allan, Dewaldt Duvenage (Tito Tebaldi ’62); Nicola Quaglio (Cherif Traore ’51), Luca Bigi (Hame Faiva ’51), Marco Riccioni (Simone Ferrari ’51); Irné Herbst (Marco Lazzaroni ’56), Federico Ruzza; Giovanni Pettinelli (Marco Barbini ’58), Abraham Steyn, Toa Halafihi

Munster: Mike Haley; Darren Sweetnam, Sam Arnold (Alex McHenry ’78), Dan Goggin, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan (Bill Johnston ’78), Alby Mathewson (Neil Cronin ’72); Jeremy Loughman (Liam O’Connor ’62), Rhys Marshall (Kevin O’Byrne ’62), Stephen Archer (Ciaran Parker ’52); Fineen Wycherley (Darren O’Shea ’62), Billy Holland; Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete, Gavin Coombes (Dave O’Callaghan ’62)

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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John Fallon

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