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RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Munster v Benetton Treviso

RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Munster v Benetton Treviso

Rob Penney is sure to get the red carpet treatment at Thomond Park tonight as he coaches at the famous Limerick venue for the first time, but Munster will be expecting no favours from Italy’s premier club Benetton Treviso.

RABODIRECT PRO12: Friday, September 7

MUNSTER (5th) v BENETTON TREVISO (4th), Thomond Park, 8pm (live TG4)

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Team News: Following on from their first round win in Edinburgh, Munster head coach Rob Penney has made three changes changes to the team for Friday’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Benetton Treviso.

The alterations are all up front with Stephen Archer getting in on this occasion ahead of BJ Botha, while David O’Callaghan gets the nod over Paddy Butler at number 6.

In a late switch, David Foley has been added to the second row to cover for Donncha O’Callaghan, who remains in Cork as his wife Jenny having been admitted to Cork University Hospital where she is expected to give birth to their second child. Tommy O’Donnell takes Foley’s place on the bench.

Penney announced the side on Wednesday morning after training at a sunny University of Limerick where the squad spent 90 minutes being put through their paces by Penney, backs coach Simon Mannix and forwards coach Anthony Foley.

New flanker Sean Dougall made his competitive bow for Munster in the 23-18 defeat of Edinburgh, and is hoping to play his part in another victory in front of a big Thomond Park crowd.

“I’ve played an ‘A’ game (for Ulster) at Thomond and played an Under-20s game there, but this will obviously be the biggest game I’ve played there and of course it’s something I’m really looking forward to,” he said.

“They (Treviso) beat the holders the Ospreys in the opening round It’s early days and we’ve still things to work on but yes, it was a good positive start for us and we hope we can step up a notch again on Friday night.”

Tickets for the Munster v Benetton Treviso game are available to buy online here. You can also purchase them from the Munster Rugby ticket offices and the Munster Rugby Stores, or by calling 021-4315767 or 061-421103.

Meanwhile, after a hard-fought 12-6 first round victory over the Ospreys, Benetton Treviso head coach Franco Smith has made a total of eight changes to his team to face Munster.

Tricky runner Brendan Williams comes in at full-back for the first change, with Ludovico Nitoglia and Tommaso Iannone completing the back-three.

With Iannone playing on the left – he was at outside centre against the Ospreys – Luca Morisi will don the number 12 jersey to make his official debut with Treviso. He played last season as a permit player.

Edoardo Gori and Alberto di Bernardo continue their half-back partnership after an impressive showing against the defending champions.

Up front, only two forwards remain from the pack that started against the Ospreys – hooker Enrico Ceccato and blindside flanker Simon Favaro. The latter will have seasonal debutant Dean Budd and Paul Derbyshire for company in the back row.

Valerio Bernabò and captain Antonio Pavanello will resume their second row partnership, while Lorenzo Cittadini and Michele Rizzo also return to duty in the front row.

Former Calvisano hooker Giovanni Maistri is likely to make his debut for the Biancoverde off the replacements bench.

MUNSTER: Denis Hurley; Doug Howlett (capt), Casey Laulala, James Downey, Luke O’Dea; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, Stephen Archer, David Foley, Billy Holland, David O’Callaghan, Sean Dougall, James Coughlan.

Replacements: Mike Sherry, David Kilcoyne, BJ Botha, Tommy O’Donnell, Paddy Butler, Peter Stringer, Scott Deasy, Ivan Dineen.

BENETTON TREVISO: Brendan Williams; Ludovico Nitoglia, Alberto Sgarbi, Luca Morisi, Tommaso Iannone; Alberto di Bernardo, Edoardo Gori; Michele Rizzo, Enrico Ceccato, Lorenzo Cittadini, Antonio Pavanello (capt), Valerio Bernabò, Simone Favaro, Dean Budd, Paul Derbyshire.

Replacements: Giovanni Maistri, Alberto de Marchi, Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, Corniel van Zyl, Robert Barbieri, Alessandro Zanni, Fabio Semenzato, Kris Burton.

Referee: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Paul Haycock, David Keane (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Seamus Flannery (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/16; Draw: 33/1; Benetton Treviso to win: 15/2

Pre-Match Quotes: Billy Holland (Munster) – “It was a great win for us against Edinburgh. A huge improvement on the previous few weeks, and as a team we worked very hard for it.

“Certainly it was huge improvement on the pre-season friendlies. We showed up and performed on the day and we knew we needed to.

“It was the intensity in everything we did, levels of concentration went up. To be fair, it should’ve been there in the early games but when they are points at stake and it’s a competitive game, fellas’ attitudes are certainly different and that showed particularly, in defence.

“Okay we conceded three tries but two of those were from a good distance out. I think the difference was that there was just a marked improvement in concentration and intensity from all the players across the board.

“Treviso have been improving consistently year by year, and they beat the Ospreys last weekend so that gives us a fair indication.

“We’re just focusing on ourselves, we’ve reviewed the game, there’s a lot of little things we need to improve on. There was a huge jump last week but a lot more is needed.

“It’s a new game-plan we’re trying to implement. So lots of things to work on. We’re certainly not going to get carried away with ourselves but we’ll take a bit more confidence in what we’re trying to do.”

Corniel van Zyl (Benetton Treviso) – “In the first season we had a few good home wins but we couldn’t manage to win away, last season was pretty much the opposite.

“We got the first win outside of Italy which was a big game and a few more as well but we just didn’t get the balance right and we couldn’t get the close games.

“We have regrets from losing those close games because they made a massive difference at the end. I think if we can combine the two this year, winning more home games and sneaking a few away that will make the difference.

“Franco (Smith) is obviously very ambitious and the target is the play-offs and we are all working towards that but it won’t be the end of the world if we don’t.

“It’s something we’d like to achieve and it’s there as a goal but it’s just the beginning of the season and saying where we want to reach in the league is very difficult.

“We had a few big wins in the first season against Munster and Leinster but we had never beaten the Ospreys.

“You always need to start the season well so in terms of that I would say last week’s win (over the Ospreys) was worth more than those wins against the Irish sides.”

Top Scorers – 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12: Munster – Points: Ian Keatley 18; Tries: Ian Keatley, Luke O’Dea 1 each; Benetton Treviso – Points: Kris Burton 12; Tries:


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
Saturday, February 18, 2012 – Benetton Treviso 14 Munster 35, Stadio di Monigo


– Munster began their 2012/13 RaboDirect PRO12 campaign with a 23-18 victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield

– The Munstermen have won seven of their last eight home games in the competition. They lost their most recent encounter with Italian opponents, going down 21-17 at Aironi in March

– Benetton Treviso beat the Ospreys 12-6 at Stadio di Monigo in round 1. Treviso had a won 2, lost 6 record against Irish provinces last season, with both victories coming away from home in Belfast and Galway

– Treviso’s only previous win against Munster was 19-18 at Stadio di Monigo in February 2011