MUNSTER kicked off their European Champions Cup campaign with a hard-earned 32-7, bonus point victory over a plucky Treviso side at a wet and windy Thomond Park on Saturday night.
It took hot favourites Munster until the 76th minute of the tie to secure a try bonus point through winger Simon Zebo as Pro12 basement side Treviso provided stubborn resistance.
Just 12,348 of the 17.763 supporters who had bought tickets for the pool opener braved the driving rain and howling wind on a four night at Thomond Park.
Munster led 10-7 at half-time, thanks to BJ Botha’s fourth minute try and a conversion and penalty from the boot of Ian Keatley. The Munster out-half had a clearance kicked blocked down in the lead up to Treviso’s 16th minute try which was scored by number eight Braam Steyn.
Munster lost hooker Mike Sherry with a jarred knee in the opening half, while his replacement Duncan Casey was forced off near the end of the game with an injured pec.
Anthony Foley’s Munster side added three further tries in the second half through captain and Man of the Match CJ Stander, replacement hooker Casey and finally winger Zebo.
Munster travel to the Paris next weekend for what is sure to be an emotional pool fixture with Stade Francais at the Stade Jean Bouin on Sunday, 3.15pm Irish time.
Both Munster and Treviso players observed a minute’s silence before kick-off at Thomond Park as a mark of respect for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks which took place on Friday night.
SCORERS: Munster: BJ Botha, CJ Stander, Duncan Casey, Simon Zebo try each, Ian Keatley, two pens, three cons. Treviso: Braam Steyn try, Jayden Hayward con.
MUNSTER: Andrew Conway; Keith Earls, Francis Saili, Denis Hurley, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha, Donnacha Ryan, Mark Chisholm, Dave O’Callaghan, Jack O’Donoghue, CJ Stander (capt). Replacements: Duncan Casey, James Cronin, John Ryan, Dave Foley, Robin Copeland, Tomas O’Leary, Rory Scannell, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.
BENETTON TREVISO: Luke McLean; Ludovico Nitoglia, Jayden Hayward, Enrico Bacchin, Tommaso Iannone; James Ambrosini, Edoardo Gori; Matteo Zanusso, Ornel Gega, Rupert Harden, Duncan Naude, Jean-François Montauriol, Francesco Minto, Alessandro Zanni (capt), Braam Steyn. Replacements: Davide Giazzon, Matteo Muccignat, Filippo Filippetto, Dean Budd, Marco Barbini, Andrea de Marchi, Chris Smylie, Sam Christie.
REFEREE: Matthew Carley (England)