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Heineken Cup Preview: Munster v Benetton Treviso

Heineken Cup Preview: Munster v Benetton Treviso

Having lost their Pool 1 opener last weekend in Northampton, Munster will be all out to register a much-needed win against Benetton Treviso on Saturday and protect an enviable record that has seen them lose just once in their last 39 home Heineken Cup matches.

HEINEKEN CUP: POOL 1: Saturday, October 17

MUNSTER (3rd) v BENETTON TREVISO (2nd), Thomond Park Stadium, 1.35pm (live Sky Sports 2)

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Team News: The Munster team for Saturday’s Heineken Cup Pool 1 encounter with Benetton Treviso shows just one change to the side that started the narrow defeat to Northampton Saints.

Denis Fogarty comes in at hooker in place of the injured Jerry Flannery (calf muscle), while this time around there is a 5-3 forwards backs split on the bench and that means Denis Hurley, the 24th man last week, comes in for Donnacha Ryan.

Ryan is playing for Munster ‘A’ against Leinster ‘A’ at Clonmel RFC on Friday.

Fogarty has ten Heineken Cup caps to his credit but Saturday afternoon’s game will mark his first European start and while admitting it is a blow to be without Flannery, Munster coach Tony McGahan commented: “Of course it’s disapponting, particularly so for the player himself but Denis has been around this squad a long time and fits in well.

“He’s worked extremely hard over the last 18 months of his rugby career to get an opportunity to start a Heineken Cup game at home and I know he’s thrilled and certainly looking forward to it.”

Meanwhile, Benetton Treviso will travel north buoyed by their gutsy 9-8 win over Perpignan in their pool opener. Three penalties from South African-born out-half Marius Goosen did the business for the home side.

Head coach Franco Smith has unsurprisingly kept faith with the majority of the squad from that famous victory, the Italian club’s first in the Heineken Cup since they beat the Dragons in 2007.

There is one change to the starting line-up, with Brendan Williams replacing Emiliano Mulieri on the right wing and former Wasps centre Fraser Waters has been added to the replacements bench.

Treviso, the defending Italian Super 10 champions, are currently second in their domestic championship with four wins from five games.

They boast a number of recently capped international players in their side including Italy’s Luke McLean, Alberto Sgarbi, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Alessandro Zanni.

MUNSTER: Paul Warwick; Doug Howlett, Lifeimi Mafi, Jean de Villiers, Keith Earls; Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary; Marcus Horan, Denis Fogarty, Tony Buckley, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell (capt), Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, Denis Leamy.

Replacements: Damien Varley, Julien Brugnaut, Darragh Hurley, Mick O’Driscoll, Niall Ronan, Denis Hurley, Peter Stringer, Ian Dowling.

BENETTON TREVISO: Luke McLean; Brendan Williams, Alberto Sgarbi, Gonzalo Garcia, Andrew Vilk; Marius Goosen, Fabio Semenzato; Michele Rizzo, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet, Antonio Pavanello (capt), Cornelius van Zyl, Benjamin Vermaak, Alessandro Zanni, Dion Kingi.

Replacements: Diego Vidal, Augusto Allori, Pedro di Santo, Enrico Pavanello, Robert Barbieri, Marco Filippucci, Tobias Botes, Fraser Waters.

Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant Referees: Patrick Pechambert, Jerome Lamirand (both France)
Television Match Official: Daniel Gillet (France)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/250; Draw: 100/1; Benetton Treviso to win: 20/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Tony McGahan (Munster) – “We have to get a win this weekend, it’s as simple as that. There’s nothing for us to hold back or hide from.

“This week is purely about a result. It’s not a case of wanting to, we have to. You must win your home games.

“We feel things are coming right, we’re gradually getting better and that is a natural progression as players come back in.

“We feel that the way we’ve trained well this week, we feel there is a performance in us and we hope to bring that out on Saturday.

“On the evidence of what I’ve seen so far Treviso look to be a very well organised side. Very hard to break down.

“Against Perpignan they played a very controlled game. Played field position very well, defended superbly and they’ll come here looking for a result, of that there is no doubt.”

Franco Smith (Benetton Treviso) – “There is a whole process of change going on and we wanted to be competitive at least this season. We have really worked hard and that win (over Perpignan) was a product of that. But we are realistic.

“We can only do what we can control and do well. It is a compliment for us to win. But we realise that Munster, Northampton and Perpignan away will be really hard.

“It’s going to be much tougher from now on. Any complacency will be gone. We know Munster have lost a few games in-a-row, there is so much pride in those players and we know that the wrath of Munster will come down on us.

“Ourselves, I think we’re a more balanced side than before. Our main strength is that we’re playing collectively – we’ve five or six nationalities but they’re all playing for the jersey and not themselves as individuals.”

Current Form – Munster – (Magners League): Lost 22-9 away to Glasgow Warriors; Won 24-13 at home to Cardiff Blues; Won 22-20 away to the Scarlets; Won 27-3 at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons; Lost 30-0 away to Leinster; (Heineken Cup): Lost 31-27 away to Northampton Saints

Benetton Treviso – (Super 10 Championship): Won 18-12 away to Cavalieri Prato; Won 26-3 at home to Petrarca Padova; Lost 13-12 away to Overmach Parma; Won 17-12 at home to Rovigo; Won 34-19 away to Rugby Roma Olimpic; (Heineken Cup): Won 9-8 at home to Perpignan

Previous European Meetings: 2

Saturday, December 13, 2003 – Pool 5 – Munster 51 Benetton Treviso 0, Thomond Park
Saturday, January 24, 2004 – Pool 5 – Benetton Treviso 20 Munster 31, Stadio Comunale di Monigo

Heineken Cup Records:

Munster –
2008/09: Reached the semi-finals
2007/08: Champions
2006/07: Reached the quarter-finals
2005/06: Champions
2004/05: Reached the quarter-finals
2003/04: Reached the semi-finals
2002/03: Reached the semi-finals
2001/02: Runners-up
2000/01: Reached the semi-finals
1999/00: Runners-up
1998/99: Reached the quarter-finals
1997/98: Failed to qualify from Pool D
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool D
1995/96: Failed to qualify from Pool D

Benetton Treviso –
2008/09: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2006/07: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2004/05: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2003/04: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2001/02: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
1998/99: Failed to qualify from Pool D
1997/98: Failed to qualify from Pool E
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool A
1995/96: Failed to qualify from Pool A