A BRACE of second half tries from Man of the Match CJ Stander inspired Munster to a hard-earned 18-13 Guinness PRO12 opening round victory over a plucky Treviso side at Musgrave Park on Saturday night.
Munster, fielding three debutants, produced an improved second half showing to ensure they avoided losing their first home PRO12 fixture of the season for a consecutive season.
Munster coach Anthony Foley handed competitive debuts to centre David Johnston, winger Shane Monahan and second row John Madigan, while New Zealand out-half Tyler Bleyendaal also made his first PRO12 appearance for the home side when introduced as a second half replacement.
Treviso led 7-6 at half-time in a game which was watched by an official attendance of 5,425. However, the first of Stander’s two tries on 46 minutes helped the home side regain the initiative and when the powerful South African back-rower rumbled over again seven minutes later, Anthony Foley’s side had built a substantial 18-7 lead. Stander won seven Man of the Match awards last season and has began the new campaign in similar fashion. Out-half Ian Keatley kicked eight points for Munster, with two first half penalty goals and two conversions.
Treviso deservedly rescued a losing bonus point, however, with two late penalty goals from the boot of full-back Jayden Hayward.
Munster’s next outing in the Guinness PRO12 is a demanding away fixture with Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday, September 13, at 2.30pm.
MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Andrew Conway, David Johnston, Rory Scannell, Shane Monahan; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha, John Madigan, Dave Foley, Dave O’Callaghan, Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander (Capt). Replacements used: Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Stephen Archer, Robin Copeland, Shane Buckley, Cathal Sheridan, Tyler Bleyendaal, Cian Bohane.
BENETTON TREVISO: Jayden Hayward; Ludovico Nitoglia, Tommaso Iannone, Henry Bacchin, Andrea Pratichetti; Sam Christie, Chris Smylie; Alberto de Marchi (capt), Roberto Santamaria, Rupert Harden, Duncan Naude, Tom Palmer, Robert Barbieri, Dean Budd, Braam Steyn. Replacements used: Luke Bigi, Zanusso Matthew, Simone Ferrari, Phillip Gerosa, Jean-Francois Montauriol, Marco Barbini, Alberto Lucchese, Simone Ragusi.
REFEREE: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)