WATCH: Munster Rugby go top of Pro14 with win in Benetton

Donn O'Sullivan, Sports Editor

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Donn O'Sullivan, Sports Editor

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Munster Rugby suffer defeat at Benetton in Pro14

Marco Zanon of Benetton is tackled by Billy Holland left and Rhys Marshall right during the Guinness PRO14 Round 20 game between Benetton and Munster Rugby at Stadio di Monigo in Treviso, Italy. Photo

Munster have gone back to the top of Conference 'A' in the Pro14 following a dogged 37-28 win away at Benetton this evening. 

Munster arrived in Treviso to take on Benetton Rugby with a place in the Guinness PRO14 Finals Series secured after last weekend’s victory over Cardiff Blues. However a win has helped them to keep pace with Conference A rivals Glasgow who face Leinster tomorrow night in Dublin in their game in hand. 

Sadly, in a game with such a high scoreline, the stars of the show were the TMO, Stefano Roscini and referee Ben Whitehouse, such was their influence on the game. An encounter which kicked off at 7pm, did not end until after 9pm.  

The first half was a rip roaring affair littered with errors, turnovers and tries. Two five pointers for each side typified the nature of the opening 40 minutes. The home side scored first with a penalty from Tomasso Allan, before Tomasso Benvenuti was on the end of a sensational line break from Ratuva Tavuyarato to dot down the opening try. 

Munster replied three minutes later as Rhys Marshall barrelled over from two metres out following excellent work by his forwards and a perfectly timed pass from Alby Mathewson. Just two minutes later Munster were to take the lead as Dan Goggin pounced on a loose ball to score under the sticks. The TMO took his time awarding the score, but he eventually did, seeing Munster into a 14-10 lead.

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Two penalties from the boot of Tomasso Allan saw the home side regain the lead after 23 minutes, but it was to be short lived once more. JJ Hanrahan was on hand to put his side into a 17-16 lead after another indiscretion from the Italian side in their own 22. 

With the clock ticking towards half time, Munster were to concede their second try. Again the pace out wide of Benetton put pressure on Munster's hard line speed.  A break from Jayden Hayward, off of a Toa Halafihi tackle, put Monty Ioane in for the try. Allan missed the extras much to the disappointment of the large home crowd at the Stadio Monigo in Treviso.

The second half did not start well for Munster as Benetton were awarded a penalty try following a deliberate knock on from Darren Sweetnam in the 44th minute. Sweetnam was adjudged to have knocked the ball on in a tackle, when he was outnumbered in defence. Referee Ben Whitehouse checked with his TMO and pushed the score out to 28-17 to the hosts. 

Munster, a man down, managed a line break of their own from Fineen Wycherley which saw Munster enter Benetton's 22 in the 49th minute. That pressure forced a penalty for Munster which Hanrahan kicked to make it 28-20. 

Benetton were reduced to 14 men themselves following a high hit from Benvenuti on the head of Stephen Archer in the 52nd minute. The shoulder contact would have been a red in many games, but not this time, much to the annoyance of Munster captain Billy Holland. 

In the 54th minute Hanrahan was on hand once more to close the gap with an excellently struck penalty, leaving the scores at 28-23 as Darren Sweetnam came back onto the field. 

A opportunistic break and off load from Dan Goggin in the 58th minute saw Shane Daly cross in the corner to level the sides. The Cork Con winger had inches to work in, but manage to finish the move saw the men in red get the reward they deserved for the second half efforts. (28-28 all) JJ Hanrahan made things even better seconds later, once checked by the TMO, as he converted to put his side into the lead. 

Munster got their fourth try and a bonus point when Alby Mathewson was on hand to finish off a sublime break from JJ Hanrahan in the 68th minute. Munster's attack was a lot more fluid in the second half and the men in red took their chance when they came. 

The final 12 minutes of the game were played in the Munster half, but the Johann van Graan's men were able to close the game out with some excellent game management. 

Best for Munster were Alby Mathewson, JJ Hanrahan, Dan Goggin and Fineen Wycherley. Next up for Munster is their Champions Cup semi final with Saracens on April 20 at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.  

Scoring timeline: 

3mins - 3-0 Benetton - Penalty by Tomasso Allan

7mins - 8-0 Benetton - TRY from Tommaso Benvenuti

7mins - 10-0 Benetton - Conversion by Tomasso Allan

10mins - 10-5 Benetton - TRY Rhys Marshall

10mins - 10-7 Benetton - Conversion by JJ Hanrahan

12mins - 12-10 Munster - TRY by Dan Goggin 

12mins - 14-10 Munster - Conversion by JJ Hanrahan

18mins - 14-13 Munster - Penalty by Tomasso Allan

23mins - 16-14 Benetton - Penalty by Tomasso Allan

25mins - 17-16 Munster - Penalty by JJ Hanrahan

38mins - 21-17 Benetton TRY - Monty Ioane - Conversion missed

HALF TIME

44mins - 28-17 to Benetton - Penalty TRY from deliberate knock on

49mins - 28-20 to Benetton - Penalty to Munster kicked by JJ Hanrahan 

54mins - 28-23 to Benetton - Penalty to Munster kicked by JJ Hanrahan

60mins - 28-28 - Level - TRY Munster from Shane Daly

60mins - 30-28 to Munster - Conversion from JJ Hanrahan

68mins - 37-28 to Munster - TRY from Alby Mathewson, converted by JJ Hanrahan

Benetton: Jayden Hayward, Ratuva Tavuyara, Tommaso Benvenuti, Marco Zanon, Monty Ioane, Tommaso Allan (c), Dewaldt Duvenage, Nicola Quaglio, Luca Bigi, Marco Riccioni, Irné Herbst, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri, Braam Steyn, Toa Halafihi

Replacements: Hame Faiva, Cherif Traore, Simone Ferrari, Marco Lazzaroni, Giovanni Pettinelli, Tito Tebaldi, Antonio Rizzi, Tommaso Iannone

Munster: Mike Haley; Darren Sweetnam, Sammy Arnold, Dan Goggin, Shane Daly, JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson, Jeremy Loughman, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Fineen Wycherley, Billy Holland (c); Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, Ciaran Parker, Darren O’Shea, Dave O’Callaghan, Neil Cronin, Bill Johnston, Alex McHenry.