Munster are heavily favoured to maintain their position at the top of the Magners League on Friday night. However, they will need to be on their guard against a Benetton Treviso side that took a shock 10-0 lead when they last visited Limerick twelve months ago.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, October 22
MUNSTER (1st) v BENETTON TREVISO (6th), Thomond Park, 7.45pm (live TG4/Dahlia TV)
Team News: Scott Deasy has been listed at full-back in the Munster team to play Benetton Treviso in Friday’s Magners League clash at Thomond Park.
It will be Deasy’s first competitive start of the season, although he has come off the replacements bench on three occasions to date.
The Cork youngster, who turned 22 recently, was in the province’s matchday squad for the league game against Leinster and the two recent Heineken Cup matches. He comes in, this week, for the benched Paul Warwick.
Other than Deasy’s promotion to the starting line-up, Munster coach Tony McGahan has named a largely unchanged squad from the one that saw off Toulon last weekend.
The noticeable exceptions being Marcus Horan, who has been ruled out by a wrist injury, stand-in captain Denis Leamy, who has earned a break having played in six of Munster’s seven games to date, and Niall Ronan, who has been equally as busy.
Leamy’s place at number 8 goes to James Coughlan, a late try scorer as a replacement in the 45-18 victory over Toulon.
There are two other changes in the pack, John Hayes replacing Tony Buckley at tighthead prop and Donncha O’Callaghan making way for Donnacha Ryan in the second row.
Former UCC captain Ivan Dineen is poised to make his senior debut for Munster as a replacement. He played for the ‘A’ team in their British & Irish Cup opener against Llanelli last Friday.
Munster team manager Shaun Payne said: “The arrival of the Italian teams has added a lot of spice to the Magners League. Aironi, in the first game, gave us a bit of a scare and Treviso are a very good side.
“Their strength has been that they play as a team, with very good physicality, good work ethic, good set piece so it’s not so much a team of stars but a proper team from 1 to 15.”
Meanwhile, Benetton Treviso coach Franco Smith has made a number of changes to his team, following Heineken Cup defeats to Leicester Tigers (34-29) and Perpignan (35-14).
Amongst the recalled players are full-back Brendan Williams and winger Ludovico Nitoglia, while Andrew Vilk and Ezio Galon return in midfield. Chris Burton and Fabio Semenzato are paired together at half-back.
There are front row alterations as Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet moves to the tighthead side of the scrum, linking with hooker and captain Leonardo Ghiraldini and loosehead prop Franco Sbaraglini.
The Italians field an experienced second row partnership in Enrico Pavanello and Valerio Bernabo, while flankers Benjamin Vermaak and Francesco Minto will make their Magners League debuts.
Second row is filled by Enrico Pavanello and Valerio Bernabo, while flankers Benjamin Vermaak and Francesco Minto will make their debuts in the Magners League.
MUNSTER: Scott Deasy; Doug Howlett, Keith Earls, Johne Murphy, Denis Hurley; Ronan O’Gara (capt), Peter Stringer; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, John Hayes, Mick O’Driscoll, Donnacha Ryan, Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, James Coughlan.
Replacements: Mike Sherry, Darragh Hurley, Tony Buckley, Donncha O’Callaghan, Peter O’Mahony, Duncan Williams, Paul Warwick, Ivan Dineen.
BENETTON TREVISO: Brendan Williams; Ludovico Nitoglia, Ezio Galon, Andrew Vilk, Benjamin De Jager; Chris Burton, Fabio Semenzato; Franco Sbaraglini, Leonardo Ghiraldini (capt), Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet, Enrico Pavanello, Valerio Bernabo, Francesco Minto, Benjamin Vermaak, Robert Barbieri.
Replacements: Enrico Ceccato, Augusto Allori, Pedro Di Santo, Antonio Pavanello, Marco Filippucci, Tommaso Benvenuti, Tobie Botes, Simon Picone.
Referee: David Jones (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Paul Haycock, Eanna O’Dowd (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/33; Draw: 40/1; Benetton Treviso to win: 10/1
Pre-Match Quotes: Mick O’Driscoll (Munster) – “They (Treviso) have done pretty well and for us the Magners League is of huge importance. We want to stay at the top of the table, last weekend was great but come Monday morning the focus was on this game.
“As a player, that’s the way it goes, that’s how it is, you’ve got to get up and get on with it, after a good win or a defeat it’s all the same and the next challenge will be as big as the last.
“There was a good feeling in the camp from the start of the week. It was a ‘must win’ situation (against Toulon) and we have found ourselves in that situation before.
“It probably brought the best out of us although other things had to come right too. All those little bits and pieces that had gone wrong over the previous couple of games just seemed to come together. I think it was an exceptional performance but of the type we’re always capable of producing.
“Experience is undoubtedly a hugely important factor in the Heineken Cup. People talk up the Premiership, the Top 14 and the Magners League, but they don’t equate to the intensity of the Heineken Cup, although the Magners League is, I feel, getting close to it.
“From a Munster perspective, we have ten, maybe 12 guys who have played a huge number of games, they’re up there in the top 20 group in terms of games played in Europe. That has to count when the going gets tough.”
Top Scorers – 2010/11 Magners League: Munster – Points: Ronan O’Gara 54; Tries: Niall Ronan 3; Benetton Treviso – Points: Tobie Botes 52; Tries: Brendan Williams 2
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
– Munster lead the Magners League after five rounds, and have won their last three home games in all competitions
– The Munstermen have a perfect played 10, won 10 record against Italian teams
– Benetton Treviso have lost their only two away games this season, at the Ospreys in the Magners League and at Perpignan in the Heineken Cup
– The two Italian teams, Treviso and Aironi Rugby, have yet to tally up a single match point on their travels in this season’s league
– The two teams have met on four previous occasions with Munster claiming comfortable victories each time