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On-fire wing Simon Zebo’s two tries made sure Munster wouldn’t be denied in Italy this weekend as they exacted revenge for last season’s loss and picked up a bonus point in Treviso.
Munster’s first match in a month held trepidations for forwards coach Anthony Foley that his team would be slow off the mark against the Italians.
Due to play Aironi in the RaboDirect PRO12 last weekend a snowed-under pitch denied them game time to gel a side short of their international stars.
But the travelling Munstermen couldn’t have started better with a try by outside centre Danny Barnes in the fourth minute of the match.
Returning fly-half Ronan O’Gara converted and was soon repeating the act after Zebo went over seven minutes later.
Zebo, who hit a hat-trick in their last game – a 51-36 defeat of the Northampton Saints in the Heineken Cup – had to wait for the video referee to award him his seventh try of the season.
After 19 minutes a high tackle on Barnes gave O’Gara his first penalty opportunity of the day which he duly slotted to extend the advantage to 17-0.
At this stage any hopes Treviso had of replicating last season’s heroic defeat of the champions-to-be were looking very slim.
Treviso led that match 9-3 at half-time and went on to win 19-18 in a historic day for the Biancoverde.
But Johne Murphy’s try in the 25th minute effectively decided the game on the scoreboard.
They eventually got a grapple hold in the game in the 29th minute with a series of scrums five metres from Munster’s line.
For ten minutes massive defence from the visitors held up Treviso, who had turned down kickable penalties in favour of barging their way over the line.
But in extra time Welsh referee Neil Hennessy lost patience with Munster infringing and sent Munster’s captain Mick O’Driscoll to the sin bin.
And Treviso made their numerical advantage in the forwards pay out through their backs.
Punchy scrum-half Fabio Semenzato saw some space and darted over himself to give Treviso something to build on after the break. Willem De Waal converted to take the score to 24-7 at half-time.
Five minutes into the second half Munster went down to 13 men with a yellow card for Zebo and Treviso immediately profited.
Italy lock Corniel Van Zyl touched down and De Waal made it a seven pointer.
O’Gara responded straight away with a 35-metre penalty after Treviso fouled at a maul. Five minutes later he added another and then Treviso set about trying to get the bonus point.
It needed the sin binning of Valerio Bernabo, a half-time replacement for Paul Derbyshire, for it to come. Zebo used the extra man to get his fifth try in two matches and take home all five points.