Mun­ster eas­ily see off chal­lenge of Benet­ton

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - RUGBY -

Mun­ster 34 Benet­ton Rugby 3

Mun­ster got the new sea­son off to a fly­ing start with a bonus point win in Cork on a night when they rarely had to stretch them­selves to see off the dis­ap­point­ing chal­lenge of the vis­i­tors.

Mun­ster had the points in the bag long be­fore the break and the only dis­ap­point­ment for Rassie Eras­mus and his man­age­ment team is that they did not push on for a big­ger win af­ter the restart.

Yet, with such an in­ex­pe­ri­enced side on duty, Eras­mus will be pleased by the per­for­mances of emerg­ing play­ers such as Liam O’Con­nor, Ciaran Parker, Sean O’Con­nor and Fi­neen Wy­cher­ley, while new cen­tre Chris Far­rell posted a big dis­play.

And with Tyler Bleyen­daal, even if he was poor off the tee, dic­tat­ing mat­ters, it was a long night for the Ital­ians.

Mun­ster had the bonus point in the bag af­ter just over half an hour as the fee­ble Ital­ian chal­lenge was swept aside by a free-flow­ing home side who were on top in every sec­tor.

Mun­ster weren’t long in pun­ish­ing them ei­ther and by the in­ter­val were coast­ing to vic­tory on a 27-3 score­line.

It would have been much more had Tyler Bleyen­daal been more ac­cu­rate but he missed four of five con­ver­sions.

He landed the first of them with a su­perbly mea­sured kick from the right af­ter lock Jean Kleyn had got them off the mark af­ter nine min­utes with the open­ing try af­ter a sus­tained bout of pres­sure.

The other four tries in the open­ing half came from the backs, with Dun­can Wil­liams pop­ping the ball up beau­ti­fully for his half-back part­ner Bleyen­daal to dive over af­ter Tommy O’Donnell had been stopped short af­ter an­other good at­tack.

Mun­ster, with new cen­tre Chris Far­rell crown­ing his com­pet­i­tive de­but with some great surges, con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate and wrapped up the bonus point when first Dar­ren Sweet­nam and then Alex Woot­ton crossed for tries.

The pres­ence of Ire­land de­fence coach Andy Far­rell, who had a brief stint with Mun­ster, didn’t go un­no­ticed among sup­port­ers spec­u­lat­ing that he may be a pos­si­ble re­place­ment when Rassie Eras­mus de­parts in De­cem­ber.

Full-back An­drew Con­way, full of en­deav­our from the start, was the next to slice the Ital­ians when he jinked his way from deep to score a fine try as he con­tin­ued the form which saw him score 11 last sea­son. Mun­ster con­tin­ued to build on that 27-3 ad­van­tage af­ter the restart and they crossed for a sixth try af­ter 50 min­utes when Kleyn bull­dozed over af­ter Ital­ian in­ter­na­tional Francesco Minto was binned for killing the ball.

Mun­ster in­tro­duced Mike Sherry for his first com­pet­i­tive ac­tion since May 2016 and the hooker will be glad to get game-time af­ter re­cov­er­ing from a back in­jury.

Both sides emp­tied their benches in the sec­ond-half and, in­evitably, the game be­came more dis­jointed.

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