Munster v Treviso
Guinness PRO14, 1st Semi-final qualifier
Thomond Park, Limerick @3pm, Saturday 4th May 2019
Referee: Nigel Owens TV: eir Sports 1
Munster will be looking to set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash in the R.D.S. against Leinster on Saturday, May 18th. Standing in their way are Treviso, the first Italian side to qualify for the knock-out stages of the PRO14. However, Johann van Graan won’t want his charges to look beyond this weekends clash as the Italians have proved a handful for the majority of teams they have faced this season.
Munster only played in fits and starts in last weekends 27-14 win over a depleted Connacht side, while Treviso registered a bonus point 11-25 win in Parma over local rivals Zebre. Van Graan will be looking for a more consistent performance from his Munster side as they seek to end a seven-year drought without silverware. Munster have taken an impressive 47 points from a possible 50 in their 10 home games at Thomond Park this year and will be raging hot favourites going into this clash.
Indeed Munster opened their season with a comfortable six-try, 34-3, win over Treviso back in September. More recently on 12th April Munster registered a second win over the Italians, this time in Treviso, but in a much tighter clash. A 28-37 for Munster doesn’t tell the full tale of the game that the home side led by 28-20 before Tommaso Benvenuti was yellow carded on 52 minutes. Munster made the most of their numerical advantage to ease away for the win.
However, Treviso should not be discounted as anyone who witnessed their recent 27-27 draw with Leinster in the R.D.S. the week prior to the visit of Munster to Italy. Treviso carry threats all over the field. Six of last weeks starting pack are Italian Internationals, while the other two are South African second-row Irne Herbst and former Hurricanes back-row player, Toa Halafihi. The Italian international pairing of Tito Tebaldi and Tommaso Allan are the half-back pairing, while Monty Ioane is the main dangerman out wide.
Munster will hope to have Conor Murray available again as he was a late withdrawal against Connacht last Saturday due to an injury in the warm-up, while Keith Earls and Joey Carbery both are back in training this week after missing Munster’s Champions Cup clash with Saracens.