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PREVIEW: Munster looking for Euro redemption

Wednesday 11th November 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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La campagne européenne s'achève tristement pour le Munster et les Sharks de Sale

La campagne européenne s'achève tristement pour le Munster et les Sharks de Sale

Munster head into the opening round of Champions Cup fixtures hoping to banish the memories of last season’s European flop.

The Irish province failed to reach the knock-out stages of last year’s competition for only the second time in 17 seasons in Europe’s premier cup competition.

Defeats home and away to Clermont Auvergne left Munster will a mountain to climb in their pool and a final round defeat to Saracens compounded a disappointing tournament for the two-time winners.

“It hurt a lot, for the group, for the coaching staff, the supporters, it hurt us a lot,” admitted Munster head coach Anthony Foley.
“It’s such a tough competition. Everybody earns the right to play in this competition, it comes off your league performances and there’s a lot of very competitive teams in a lot of very competitive groups.

“I’d hate to be sitting down trying to pick winners and runners-up out of these groups, it’s tough across the board and it just shows the level of competition that’s within the European Cup this year.”

Munster’s redemption starts with a visit of Benneton Treviso to Thomond Park on Saturday but the Italians have already shown this season they are going to be no walkover.

Treviso almost shocked Munster on the opening weekend of the PRO12 when they led by a point at half-time only for captain CJ Stander to pull the Irish province out of the mire with two second-half tries.

It gave Munster a narrow 18-13 victory which has been the catalyst for some good form in the league and they currently sit second, a point behind early leaders Connacht.

Treviso’s encouraging start to the season has seen them add to the losing bonus point they picked up in Munster with narrow, losing bonus point defeats to Edinburgh, Ospreys and the Newport Gwent Dragons.
But they are still without a win in the PRO12 and already fins themselves five points adrift at the bottom of the table.

They have never beaten an Irish province in Europe and will have to upset the odds and Munster’s near-perfect home record of 61 wins from 65 matches in the European Cup if they are to come away with anything from round one.

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REPORT: Perfect start for Munster

Saturday 14th November 2015

12:00 am (GMT)

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Face aux Italiens du Benetton Treviso

Face aux Italiens du Benetton Treviso

Simon Zebo scored a late try to give Munster a bonus-point victory over Benetton Treviso.

Munster had laboured through a difficult first half but three scores after the break from CJ Stander, Duncan Casey and a 75th minute effort from Zebo got their Champions Cup campaign off to a solid start.

Treviso had almost shocked Munster at Thomond Park in the PRO12 earlier in the season and were in contention at half-time as they trailed the two-time winners by just three points.

But the Italian side had lost their previous 32 away games in Europe and after seven defeats from seven in the league this season, their challenge fell away in the second half.

Munster looked determined to make a quick start and took just four minutes to cross the whitewash.
Scrum-half Conor Murray was among several Munster players held up just short of the line before South African World Cup winner BJ Botha crashed over from close range.

The tight-head prop, who put off retirement to sign a new six-month deal with the province this season, crossed for a second time after eight minutes but after going to the TMO he was shown to have lost control of the ball over the line.

Munster were in charge of the contest until Ian Keatley’s clearance kick was charged down by Braam Steyn. The Treviso number eight chipped ahead and grounded his own kick to bring the visitors level.

Keatley edge the Munster back in front with a penalty after 19 minutes but it proved to be the last meaningful action of a poor first half that was dominated by the weather.

Handling errors from both sides littered the opening 40 minutes but with the wind at their backs in the second period Munster were hoping for better.

They got off to a decent start with a second Keatley penalty eight minutes after the interval but conditions were still making it difficult to put ball through the hands.

They finally got a breakthrough on 56 minutes when captain CJ Stander, who scored two against Treviso in the league earlier in the second, went over for their second try from close range.

Replacement hooker Duncan Casey got Munster’s third try from a driving line-out with a little more than 10 minutes to go and the countdown was on to get the all-important fourth.

Munster’s cause was helped when Treviso prop Matteo Muccignat saw yellow six minutes from the end after repeated infringements from the visitors.

A minute later, after going through the phases, Murray found wing Zebo out wide and he was left with a simple finish to wrap up the bonus point.

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