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Unless you were one of the few hardy souls that braved a thoroughly Baltic Thomond Park yesterday afternoon, you’ll have very little idea of what went on. There was zero television coverage, the Pro12 have no highlights out yet as now, and everyone else had to see with their ears along with the Two Lens on Limerick’s Live 95.

It’s just one of those games that fall between the stools of a huge test match at 5, and a packed out home game in Connacht the night before. In that scenario, this game against the bonus point vending machine that is Treviso on the road was always going to be one that would go un-televised.

So what did you miss? Not much, really. Some good scores, a few eye-catching performances from the younger lads and a continuation of the fundamentals that have underpinned our season to date.

Treviso started well enough, but fell away early. Three first half tries broke the back of the Italian resistance and from there, the game had a training ground feel to it. As a defensive drill, it was certainly useful in parts as Munster have now gone 200 Pro12 minutes without conceding a try. It’s a good stat to look at, but it shouldn’t really be used to illustrate much as Treviso were very, very poor outside some good early possession.

The game had a distinct “Let’s Not Get Injured” feel to it, and rightly so. Munster’s next few block of games are season defining and no one wants to lose out due to an injury they picked up in this half hearted run out.

What Went Well 

The Scrum 

It’s absolutely rock solid and a real weapon regardless of who’s in it. The Tigers game will be a huge test of this platform, but it looks incredibly well drilled and, most importantly, is building a reputation of dominance. It was ultra dominant again here against a decent Treviso unit, was responsible for a few key scores, and every component across the tight five (including replacements) kept the standards up for 80 minutes.

New Players Bedded In 

Thomas Du Toit has the dimensions of a fridge freezer, and scrummages like landslide. He’s going to be an absolute star loosehead prop for South Africa in a few years, and he’ll come in extremely handy here for a few months. A physical freak.

Angus Lloyd had a bright little cameo in the second half and looks to have a bit of zip about him. Sam Arnold too, looked a handy. He was a little over exuberant at times, but he looks a real physical specimen.

Rhys Marshall’s first start at hooker was excellent and he’s extremely well rounded at the set piece and a nuggety presence around the pitch.

Attacking Intent 

Once we got into the game, Munster found it quite easy to move Treviso around, especially through the boot of Tyler Bleyendaal, who had a hugely efficient game. Most everything good that Munster did came through him and he was comfortably in control of this game from the start.

There were hints of attacking fluidity – especially from our back three – but the chop and change nature of the selection ensured things were kept simple. Our handling continued on its upward curve, and hinted at the improved skills the HPC is facilitating.

Hiding to Nothing

This game had two parameters of success – (1) collect a bonus point win nice and early and (2) avoid injuries to key men. In that regard, it was a massive success. Any complaints about the slow start, or the technical errors at the maul are secondary to what was ultimately, a performance that put Munster a point clear at the top of the Pro12 and seven points clear of Glasgow in 5th. That’s the kind of day light we need at this time of year to keep up our stretch goal of making the Pro12 playoffs.

And that’s all that matters.

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Jaco Taute, Sammy Arnold, Darren Sweetnam, Tommy O’Donnell, Robin Copeland, Jack O’Donoghue, Billy Holland, Ian Keatley

If you grade this match on a curve – as we are – then none of these lads really dominated in the way they would have liked.

None of them were bad. Far from it. I just felt that the game mostly passed them by compared to some of the others. A decent showing for all, without anything overly remarkable.

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Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall, John Ryan, Stephen Archer, Thomas Du Toit, Niall Scannell, Dave Foley, Darren O’Shea, Jean Kleyn, Angus Lloyd, Duncan Williams, Tyler Bleyendaal, Ronan O’Mahony, Andrew Conway, Alex Wootton 

A pretty good showing from these lads, all things considered.

The tight five starters and replacements were very good all through the game. There were a few technical mauling issues for sure, but the patchwork nature of the week’s preparation wouldn’t have helped with that. I thought Kilcoyne stood out massively in the loose in particular.

Darren O’Shea had a really dominant game and seems to be growing into the things required of him. He still needs a little extra something in the lineout on our throw – he should be a rock solid option at the front but he isn’t quite there yet – but his work on the opposition throw is destructive. A great performance.

Both Conway and O’Mahony have really pushed on in the last few games after some iffy early season performances.

Alex Wootton came on and was absolutely electric. This boy’s got pace. He had one excellent tackle and a great strike runner score under the posts. Worth keeping a real eye on this year.

Tyler Bleyendaal looked a cut above and put a peach of a kick on a platter for Ronan O’Mahony to set up Andrew Conway for the score of the game. He just seems to have all the time in the world. He’s got an excellent pass off either side that just rolls to his targets and he’s got all the tricks when he puts boot to ball. He managed his gainline attacking here – by design, it looked like – and he ran everything on attack. He’s a very verbal, commanding presence. He was the top performer here by some distance.

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