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Preview: Benetton v Munster

Avatar tdean 11 Apr 2019

Munster will arrive in Treviso to take on Benetton Rugby with a place in the Guinness PRO14 Finals Series secured after last weekend’s victory over Cardiff Blues.

Benetton however will be looking to bolster their claim for a spot in the knockout stages with some work yet to do if they are to get there.

What’s at stake?

For Benetton, there is more on the line than there is Munster.

Munster scored more points than any other Guinness PRO14 team when they beat Cardiff Blues 45-21 last time out and by doing so, joined Glasgow Warriors with a guaranteed spot in the Guinness PRO14 Finals Series from Conference A.

Meanwhile Benetton were out on their own quest to get there from a tight and pulled a rabbit out of a hat when Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara scored a last-gasp try against Leinster as they fought back for a draw.

The try kept them in third in Conference B but with Edinburgh hot on their heels, just a point behind, the Italians will see victory as a necessity.

Team news (Benetton Rugby)

Benetton Rugby have made just one change to their team from Round 19.

Luca Morisi drops out of the team in place of Tommaso Benvenuti at inside centre and he will be partnered by Marco Zanon.

Full-back will be Jayden Hayward and on the wings it will be Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara and Monty Ioane.

Captain Tommaso Allan keeps his place at fly-half as does Dewaldt Duvenage at scrum-half.

The front row will consist of Nicola Quaglio, Luca Bigi and Marco Riccioni, the second row will comprise of Irné Herbst and Federico Ruzza and finally, the back row sees Sebastian Negri, Braam Steyn and Toa Halafihi complete Kieran Crowley’s line-up.

Team news (Munster)

Conversely there are 11 changes to the Munster side that defeated Cardiff Blues at Irish Independent Park last week.

Only Mike Haley, Darren Sweetnam, Billy Holland and Chris Cloete are retained from last week’s line-up with Holland captaining the side.

JJ Hanrahan will make his 100th Munster appearance with tighthead prop Stephen Archer making his 150th Guinness PRO14 appearance.

Three academy players are included in the squad as Shane Daly and Gavin Coombes are named in the starting XV with Alex McHenry in line to make his senior debut off the bench.

Haley starts at full-back with Sweetnam and Daly on either wing as Dan Goggin and Sammy Arnold partner up in the centres.

Jeremy Loughman, Rhys Marshall and Archer start in the front row with Fineen Wycherley and Holland in the second row.

Jack O’Donoghue, Cloete and Coombes complete the starting XV in the back row.

Talking points

Munster head coach Johann van Graan: “The way they [Benetton] held on to the ball against Leinster at the end was incredible and the try that they scored was amazing.

“You don’t just go to Leinster and get a draw, so they are a very good team and one that we respect.

“We treat all of our opponents each week with a lot of respect and they will certainly be the same.”

Did you know?

Benetton’s only defeat in any competition since mid-December was 29-14 at Connacht in round 18 of the Guinness PRO14.

Key stat

The Italians are winless in their last five fixtures against Irish provinces, a run which includes two draws.

Benetton: Jayden Hayward, Ratuva Tavuyara, Tommaso Benvenuti, Marco Zanon, Monty Ioane, Tommaso Allan (c), Dewaldt Duvenage, Nicola Quaglio, Luca Bigi, Marco Riccioni, Irné Herbst, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri, Braam Steyn, Toa Halafihi

Replacements: Hame Faiva, Cherif Traore, Simone Ferrari, Marco Lazzaroni, Giovanni Pettinelli, Tito Tebaldi, Antonio Rizzi, Tommaso Iannone

Munster: Mike Haley; Darren Sweetnam, Sammy Arnold, Dan Goggin, Shane Daly, JJ Hanrahan, Alby Mathewson, Jeremy Loughman, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Fineen Wycherley, Billy Holland (c); Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, Ciaran Parker, Darren O’Shea, Dave O’Callaghan, Neil Cronin, Bill Johnston, Alex McHenry.

TV: At Stadio Monigo, Treviso, 7pm. Live on DAZN, Free Sports, Eir

Referee: Ben Whitehouse

AR 1: Gianluca Gnecchi and AR2 Simon Rees

TMO: Stefano Roscini

The Guinness PRO14 Final is one of the most entertaining games in the rugby calendar and takes place in Glasgow’s Celtic Park on May 25. Tickets start at just £25 for adults, £1 for kids. Visit www.pro14rugby.org/finaltickets

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

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Munster top again after clinical win over Benetton

Avatar Rich Dore 12 Apr 2019

Munster surged back to the top of the Guinness PRO14 Conference A table with a powerful second-half display away at Final Series-chasing Benetton.

The Italian outfit, with an excellent chance of qualifying themselves from Conference B, started strongly with Tommaso Benvenuti’s try but were pegged back as Rhys Marshall and Dan Goggin touched down.

Monty Ioane stormed in before the break and a penalty try just after it but Benetton in control, before Shane Daly crept into the corner and JJ Hanrahan made it 30-28 with a conversion out wide.

The fly-half then made a stunning break to set up Alby Mathewson for the killer try, sending Munster to the top of Conference A.

The Friday night encounter in Italy began with the hosts on the front foot, first via a Tommaso Allan penalty and immediately followed up by Iliesa Ratuva impressively breaking from his own half and passing to outside centre Benvenuti to speed away unopposed.

Munster weren’t down for long though and hooker Marshall continued his good tryscoring season as he burrowed over from short distance after a lineout in the corner.

On 14 minutes Munster went ahead through a freak try, with Darren Sweetnam hacking through after Benetton had spilled and somehow managing not to knock-on, before a loose pass found a waiting Goggin to collect and score.

The Treviso-based outfit took a 16-14 lead through two more Allan penalties, before it swayed back the other way owing to a Hanrahan strike.

Benetton would have the last say in the half though as No.15 Jayden Hayward found space down the left and passed out to Ioane, proving typically uncatchable when given space to open up his legs.

Munster trailed 21-17 at the break and soon found themselves further behind after a penalty try was awarded and wing Sweetnam saw yellow for a deliberate knock-down out wide.

Benvenuti was then also sin-binned to level up the sides, with Hanrahan kicking a penalty to reduce the deficit to 28-23.

Momentum swung the way of the Irish province and they grabbed their third try as Goggin broke down the left side and flung a speculative offload that Daly seized upon and pounced in the corner.

Hanrahan kicked the tough conversion to take a 30-28 lead and then played a huge part in the next try, taking the ball flat to the line around halfway to storm through the opposition defence and offload to Mathewson for a simple finish.

With Munster leading 37-28 heading into the final ten minutes Benetton desperately tried to find a way back into the match, but their experienced opponents kept play in the right areas of the pitch to see the game out.

The Guinness PRO14 Final is one of the most entertaining games in the rugby calendar and takes place in Glasgow’s Celtic Park on May 25. Tickets start at just £25 for adults, £1 for kids. Visit www.pro14rugby.org/finaltickets

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