What will please Munster as they face into this penultimate Pool game is that they’ve achieved what they set out to achieve by arriving at this stage of the competition with their fate very much in their own hands.
Right from the word go, doubts were expressed about this squad and their ability to progress from an ultra competitive group. And right from the word go players and management urged the doubters to wait till the Pool was completed before rushing to judgement.
Now while they are far from home an hosed they do have qualification in their own hands, albeit with two particularly tough games to go, starting with this particularly tricky assignment.
As Ronan O’Gara rightly pointed out, this is not your traditional Italian side. They’ve accounted for Perpignan at this venue, led Northampton for half of the game in Franklin’s Gardens and ran them ever so close here in Treviso. So Viadana they ain’t.
And they make no secret of the fact that their season would be crowned if they were to turn Munster over.
They have an excellent set piece game and plenty of pace in the backs to take advantage of any inconsistencies in Munster’s game. Tony McGahan insists that a good start is vital for his side knowing that this is no place and no opposition to be trying to play catch-up against.
The obvious problem Munster face – other than the opposition – is the lack of game time because of weather conditions over the past number of weeks.
There is nothing they can do about that and it is vital that their leading lights get to the pitch of the game as quickly as possible.
Treviso can score tries and they usually make the most of opponents errors and if Munster cough up early tries as easily as they did when the sides met in Thomond Park it could be a dog day afternoon in the Stadio Communale Monigo.
Munster: P Warwick; D Howlett, K Earls, J de Villiers, D Hurley; T O’Leary, R O’Gara; W du Preez, D Fogarty, J Hayes; D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell capt; A Quinlan, N Ronan, D Wallace. Replacements: D Varley, S Archer, J Brugnaut, D Ryan, J Coughlan, P Stringer, L Mafi, I Dowling.
Benetton Treviso: L McLean, A Vilk, A Sgarbi, G Garcia, B de Jager, M Goosen, S Picone, M Rizzo, L Ghiraldini, I Fernandez Rouyet, A Pavanello, C van Zyl, B Vermaak , A Zanni, D Kingi
Replacements: D Vidal, A Allori, P di Santo, E Pavanello, M Filippucci, S Orlando, F Semenzato, T Botes