Wednesday 13 December 2017

Bonus-point win well within grasp of motoring Munster

Munster v Benetton Treviso, Thomond Park, tonight 7.45 (live tg4)

Now that Munster have slipped into the groove, it would be nothing short of criminal to give respected Benetton Treviso anything less than a bonus-point lesson in hard and fast rugby.

However, there is a chink of light for the Italians in Munster's changed line-up, full-back Scott Deasy, tight-head John Hayes, lock Donnacha Ryan and number eight James Coughlan entering the first-team equation.

Former Ireland Age-Grade international Deasy has been making steady progress out of the Academy system to launch his campaign for more regular first-team action.

Deasy, 22, is a footballer to the tips of his fingers, more in the mould of Paul Warwick than Keith Earls. He has been patient long enough. This is his litmus test. He should be ready for this level.

The veteran Hayes, 36, is at the other end of his career.

He is in desperate need of match fitness given the sudden transformation of Tony Buckley at tight-head.

There are also a number of interesting faces on the bench, most notably back rower Peter O'Mahony, the former Ireland U20 captain, and scrum-half Duncan Williams, who is finally getting into a run of games after a spate of injuries.

Certainly, Franco Smith's side look ripe for the plucking. He has made changes all over the place bringing in six players to his backline, with Brendan Williams a potent weapon from full-back.

Smith has taken the ruthless option of giving a pair of flankers, Benjamin Vermaak and Francesco Minto, their debuts in the Magners League.

It is a decision Munster will be eager to punish mercilessly.

Verdict: Munster

Munster: S Deasy; D Howlett, K Earls, J Murphy, D Hurley; R O'Gara (capt), P Stringer; W du Preez, D Varley, J Hayes; M O'Driscoll, D Ryan; A Quinlan, D Wallace, J Coughlan.

Treviso: B Williams; L Nitoglia, E Galon, A Vilk, B De Jager; K Burton, F Semenzato; F Sbaraglini, L Ghiraldini (capt), I Fernandez-Rouyet, E Pavanello, V Bernabo, F Minto, B Vermaak, R Barbieri.

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