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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 18 October, 2019

Zebo seals late bonus point for Munster in torrid Thomond Park conditions

It wasn’t a night for free-flowing rugby in Limerick.

Munster 32

Treviso 7

ON A DIFFICULT night to play rugby , Munster rode out an error-strewn performance to secure a bonus-point win to open their Champions Cup campaign.

CJ Stander scores their second try Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

That it took 76 minutes to get a back across the try-line should reveal something of the conditions in Limerick. The wind was howling, the rain would only ease rather than stop and the temperatures were on a solid descent.

Second half tries from CJ Stander, Duncan Casey (on as a first half replacement for Mike Sherry who nursed a knee injury on the sideline) and Simon Zebo put the five points on the board after BJ Botha rumbled in for an early try.

The thick swirling downpours turned a little lighter by the time the sides kicked off, but the wind and greasy ball remained so that both sides looked error prone in the opening minutes.

Firm grip

Once the visitors gave the game its first knock on though, Munster appeared to settle and took advantage of the poor Italian opening with some solid one-out carries leading to a fifth minute try from Botha.

With a score in the bank, Munster showed a willingness to go wide soon after with Keatley picking good safe carriers as Munster rumbled across the 22 and Botha was an inch and a firm grip away from a second try.

Perhaps that set of phases was a curse in disguise, or maybe it was just an anomaly in a torrid first half. Soon after, the error count began to mount, Abraham Jurgens Steyn started to make regular gains off the back of Italian scrums and the frustration compounded the dampness around a windswept Thomond Park.

Abraham Jurgens Steyn scores their first try Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Steyn pulled the visitors level in the 16th minute. The 6’4″ number eight stretched his frame to charge down Keatley’s clearance kick inside the Munster 22 and the South African had just enough gas and athleticism to dive and ground the pill with no room to spare before it hit the dead ball line.

Keatley kicked a penalty to edge Munster ahead minutes later, the only one of three potentially kickable penalties taken on against the swirling wind. However, Munster were unable to build on that lead and the final 20 minutes of the first half were a frustrating stalemate beset by knock-ons.

Anthony Foley Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

With the wind behind them, Munster began the second half with much greater purpose and they showed glimpses of clinical execution to put themselves in good field position. Still, that promise took time to materialised into try-scoring opportunities. A series of Edoardo Gori box kicks got held up in the wind and sucked a little life out of the Treviso resistance as they struggled to escape their half.

It wasn’t until the 55th minute that Stander crashed in on the short side of a ruck to claim Munster’s second try. A little relief and rekindling of hope was felt by the  12,348 who brave this soggy Limerick night.

That belief swelled as the visitors tired and Casey’s try off the back of a 68th minute maul. The supporters found reason to unleash a roar to fire their team on and they got the reward they were looking for on 75 minutes.

Munster were aiming to stretch Treviso in the minutes after Matteo Muccignat’s yellow card; Keatley flung wide for Andrew Conway, the fullback stepped back inside and the defence wasn’t able to scramble a second time after he got his pass away to the Ireland wing.

A satisfying result for Anthony Foley and the Munster fateful, but the performance – never aided by conditions – left plenty of room to improve.



Tries: BJ Botha, CJ Stander, D Casey, S Zebo

Conversion: I Keatley (3)

Penalties: I Keatley (2)


Tries: AJ Steyn

Conversion: J Hayward



15. Andrew Conway; 14. Keith Earls, 13. Francis Saili, 12. Denis Hurley, 11. Simon Zebo; 10. Ian Keatley, 9. Conor Murray; 1. Dave Kilcoyne, 2. Mike Sherry, 3. BJ Botha, 4. Donnacha Ryan, 5. Mark Chisholm, 6. Dave O’Callaghan, 7. Jack O’Donoghue, 8. CJ Stander (capt).

16. Duncan Casey, 17. James Cronin, 18. John Ryan, 19. Dave Foley, 20. Robin Copeland, 21. Tomas O’Leary, 22. Rory Scannell, 23. Lucas Amorosino

Treviso: 15. Luke McLean; 14. Ludovico Nitoglia, 13. Jayden Hayward, 12. Enrico Bacchin, 11. Tommaso Iannone; 10. James Ambrosini, 9. Edoardo Gori; 1. Matteo Zanusso, 2. Ornel Gega, 3. Rupert Harden, 4. Rudolph Duncan Naude, 5. Jean-François Montauriol, 6. Francesco Minto, 7. Alessandro Zanni, 8. Abraham Jurgens Steyn

16. Davide Giazzon, 17. Matteo Muccignat, 18. Filippo Filippetto, 19. Dean Budd, 20. Marco Barbini, 21. Andrea De Marchi, 22. Christopher Smylie, 23. Samuel Christie

From a South African farm to captaining Munster: The rise of CJ Stander

Hot water bottles and blankets aplenty on the Connacht bench in Siberia this morning

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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