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RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Benetton Treviso v Munster

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Benetton Treviso v Munster

Munster have started 2012 with three wins on the trot, including a 29-11 bonus point victory over Benetton Treviso in Limerick. They meet the Italians in the return fixture today, with a number of their internationals back on board.

RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, February 18

BENETTON TREVISO (8th) v MUNSTER (5th), Stadio di Monigo, 4.15pm local time/3.15pm Irish time (live RTÉ Two/Rai Sport 2)

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Team News: Ronan O’Gara, Donnacha Ryan and Peter O’Mahony will all be in the Munster starting line-up when they resume their RaboDirect PRO12 campaign against Benetton Treviso at the Stadio di Monigo.

O’Gara will line out at half-back alongside Tomas O’Leary. His most recent league appearance, in early January, was also against Benetton Treviso when his nine-point contribution helped Munster claim a 29-11 home win.

Also included in the province’s matchday squad this weekend is the fit-again Felix Jones, who has been named on the replacements bench along with the returning Tommy O’Donnell.

It is the first time this season that Jones has been named in a Munster squad after suffering a foot injury in the home August international against France, while O’Donnell has been out of action since the Ulster derby clash in December.

Second row Mick O’Driscoll will captain the side as Tony McGahan’s men look to continue their winning run in 2012 – they beat Treviso, Castres Olympique and Northampton Saints last month.

Meanwhile, Benetton Treviso boss Franco Smith has welcomed back five Italy players from Six Nations duty for the visit of reigning league champions Munster.

Tommaso Iannone returns on the right wing with the second change in the back-line seeing centre Alberto Sgarbi win his 99th cap with Treviso. Willem de Waal and Fabio Semenzato are the half-back duo.

Before the kick-off, the home fans will salute Augusto Allori who made his 100th appearance for the club against the Ospreys last time out. He is on the bench for the Munster game.

It will be cap number 150 for starting tighthead Pedro di Santo. He is joined in a powerful front row by Matteo Muccignat and hooker Franco Sbaraglini.

The locks will be the experienced pair of captain Antonio Pavanello and Corniel van Zyl, and Marco Filippucci, Benjamin Vermaak and Paul Derbyshire will combine in the back row.

BENETTON TREVISO: Ludovico Nitoglia; Tommaso Iannone, Ezio Galon, Alberto Sgarbi, Brendan Williams; Willem de Waal, Fabio Semenzato; Matteo Muccignat, Franco Sbaraglini, Pedro di Santo, Antonion Pavanello (capt), Corniel van Zyl, Paul Derbyshire, Benjamin Vermaak, Marco Filippucci.

Replacements: Enrico Ceccato, Augusto Allori, Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet, Valerio Bernabò, Gonzalo Padrò, Gonzalo Garcia, Edoardo Gori, Alberto di Bernardo.

MUNSTER: Denis Hurley; Johne Murphy, Danny Barnes, Lifeimi Mafi, Simon Zebo; Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, BJ Botha, Donnacha Ryan, Mick O’Driscoll (capt), David O’Callaghan, Peter O’Mahony, James Coughlan.

Replacements: Denis Fogarty, Marcus Horan, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Tommy O’Donnell, Duncan Williams, Scott Deasy, Felix Jones.

Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Carlo Damasco, Matteo Liperini (both Italy)
Television Match Official: Mauro Dordolo (Italy)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Benetton Treviso to win: 11/4; Draw: 25/1; Munster to win: 1/4

Pre-Match Quotes: Anthony Foley (Munster) – “I think it’s important that we hit the ground running after been inactive for over a month now.

“What I’d be looking for is performance although I’d expect there to be a bit of rustiness there, that’s only to be expected. But the lads have gone well in training so hopefully they can deal with that.

“Two wins at the start of the league away from home isn’t the sort of form we’d be happy with and away form is important if you’re looking to be involved in the knock-outs. So, we’d be hoping to correct that but in saying that it won’t just happen for us. We have to make it happen.

“They’re probably one of the most improved sides this season. We lost here last year so we’ve a fair idea of what we’re going to be up against.

“Of course it’s going to be difficult, first game for us in a while but as I said we have to put into practice what we’ve been doing in training and we have to deal with whatever rustiness that’s there pretty quick because they won’t be waiting around for us.”

Top Scorers – 2011/12 RaboDirect PRO12: Benetton Treviso – Points: Kris Burton 111; Tries: Brendan Williams 4; Munster – Points: Ian Keatley 113; Tries: Danny Barnes 4


Friday, October 22, 2010 – Munster 39 Benetton Treviso 13, Thomond Park
Sunday, February 13, 2011 – Benetton Treviso 19 Munster 18, Stadio di Monigo
Saturday, January 7, 2012 – Munster 29 Benetton Treviso 11, Thomond Park


– Benetton Treviso have slipped to four straight defeats in all competitions but at least they did win their most recent home game in the RaboDirect PRO12, beating Italian rivals Aironi 37-14 on New Year’s Eve

– Benetton Treviso’s two victories over Irish provinces this season have both come away from home

– Munster will hope for better luck on this trip to Italy than last week, when their clash at Aironi was postponed due to snow and frost in Viadana

– Munster’s sole defeat in their last seven matches in all competitions was a 33-17 reversal at Ulster on December 30

– The Munstermen have lost their last four away games in the RaboDirect PRO12 since their 18-13 victory at the Cardiff Blues on September 23

– Benetton Treviso won this equivalent fixture last season, their only previous win over Munster