Munster climb above Benetton in table with win in Italy
URC REPORT: Munster ran in six tries to leapfrog Benetton and climb into fifth place in the United Rugby Championship table with a 40-30 win over Benetton.
Paddy Patterson, Jack O’Sullivan, John Hodnett, Jean Kleyn, Antoine Frisch and Joey Carbery were the Munster try-scorers as the province recovered from a strong Benetton start.
The game was in the balance right up to the final 10 minutes as Munster were under pressure for large spells of the second half but the province played some excellent rugby, and were clinical in attack, to clinch the victory.
It was another all-action performance from Hodnett, who was deservedly named Player of the Match.
It was a hugely important game for both sides and Benetton raced into an early 12-0 lead after some scintillating attacking play. After a midfield break, England international Jacob Umaga offloaded for Marco Zanon to score in the left corner with Umaga unlucky to see his conversion attempt come back off the post.
The Italian side were in for their second try when Rhyno Smith made a break after a reverse pass and fed wing Ignacio Mendy to score in the right corner. Umaga was on target this time and Benetton were flying.
Munster needed to steady the ship and responded when Joey Carbery whipped a pass out to Nash on the right wing and he chipped over Smith. After waiting patiently for the ball to pop up, Nash passed inside for Patterson to side step a defender and score under the posts after 16 minutes. Carbery converted to make it 12-7.
There was a rejig in the Munster backline when Nash picked up a knock after 20 minutes and was replaced by flyhalf Ben Healy with Carbery moving to fullback as Daly took Nash’s place on the wing .
Benetton were playing some great offloading rugby with Carbery making a vital tackle after another line break with O’Sullivan winning the turnover to relieve the pressure.
Munster hit the front for the first time on 30 minutes as Ben Healy’s flat pass put John Hodnett through a gap and he popped for O’Sullivan on his shoulder to score. Carbery’s conversion made it 14-12.
Umaga’s first penalty made it 15-14 to Benetton at the break with the game firmly in the balance.
Munster made the perfect start to the second half as Hodnett crossed in the left corner for a superb score. Good hands from Daly, Healy, Carbery and Coombes gave Hodnett space on the left wing and he dummied a pass inside to Patterson before finishing brilliantly.
He went in under the posts for good measure and Carbery’s conversion moved Munster 21-15 in front.
Healy was sin-binned after he was deemed to have knocked on deliberately when Umaga made a break with the resulting penalty reducing Munster’s lead to three points.
Despite being down to 14, Jean Kleyn got in for the bonus-point try on 50 minutes with the dancing feet of Roman Salanoa making great ground in the lead up. Carbery landed the tough conversion superbly to make it 28-18 with half an hour to play.
The Munster scrum was penalised on 55 minutes with Umaga kicking into our 22 as the 14 men of Munster defended. Just as Healy was about to return, replacement Diarmuid Barron was yellow-carded for cynical play yards from our line as Munster faced another 10 minutes down to 14.
Benetton took advantage of the extra man this time with Mendy in for his second try in the right corner after quick hands got the ball to the edge. Umaga’s touchline conversion was wide as Munster led 28-23 with 20 minutes to go.
Carbery’s 45-metre penalty shaved the post and dropped wide but the match-winning play came on 71 minutes.
Replacement Academy lock Cian Hurley blocked a Benetton kick in our 22 and Patterson whacked the clearance into the Benetton 22. Rhyno Smith got there first but Daly got in over the ball to win back possession and Healy’s perfectly judged crossfield kick for Frisch to score gave Munster some breathing room.
Carbery couldn’t land the touchline conversion but Munster led 33-23 with seven minutes to go.
There was still time for two more tries as Healy’s delayed pass over the top gave Carbery a simple run-in with Carbery also converting before Mendy completed his hat-trick in the final play to give Benetton a four-try bonus-point.
Tries: Zanon, Mendy 3
Cons: Umaga 2
Pens: Umaga 2
Tries: Patterson, O’Sullivan, Hodnett, Kleyn, Frisch, Carbery
Cons: Carbery 5
Yellow cards: Ben Healy (Munster, 46′); Diarmuid Barron (Munster, 56′)
Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Ignacio Mendy, 13 Marco Zanon, 12 Filippo Drago, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Henry Time-Stowers, 7 Alessandro Izekor, 6 Giovanni Pettinelli, 5 Riccardo Favretto, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Siua Maile, 1 Nahuel Tetaz
Replacements: 16 Bautista Bernasconi, 17 Thomas Gallo, 18 Filippo Alongi, 19 Nicola Piantella, 20 Carl Wegner, 21 Braam Steyn, 22 Manfredi Albanese, 23 Marcus Watson
Munster: 15 Shane Daly, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Liam Coombes, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Paddy Patterson, 8 Alex Kendellen, 7 John Hodnett, 6 Jack O’Sullivan, 5 Fineen Wycherley, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Roman Salanoa, 2 Niall Scannell (captain), 1 Josh Wycherley
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Mark Donnelly, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Cian Hurley, 20 Ruadhan Quinn, 21 Neil Cronin, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Rory Scannell
Referee: Ben Blain (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Federico Vedovelli (Italy) , Franco Rosella (Italy)
TMO: Sam Grove-White (Scotland)