With one winning Rabo Direct PRO12 performance already under their belts, the men in red will seek to maintain their positive momentum against Benetton Treviso at Thomond Park this evening (8pm).
Munster’s victory in Murrayfield on Saturday last provided Rob Penney with the perfect start to his competitive tenure as provincial coach. But, make no mistake, they'll be wary of the challenge posed by their Italian visitors, who stunned defending champions Ospreys 12-6 in their season opener at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo.
As Six Nations form has dictated over the years, Italy tend to produce their better rugby in the opening rounds of the Championship. And to get off the mark in so spectacular a manner will have the former League champions on their toes from the kick-off tonight.
Nor will Munster need reminding that their last RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Italian opposition ended in defeat, a 21-17 reversal to the now defunct Aironi back in March.
Yet it must be stated that a Munster team replicating the form they produced in Edinburgh last Saturday ought to ensure that their successful start to the RaboDirect PRO12 campaign continues.
And the tactical shift alluded to by the new coaching team in the pre-season was already in encouraging evidence. After an opening quarter in which several passes failed to stick, something which stymied Munster in several close encounters last season, things quickly began to gel.
A solid scrum, spearheaded by the titanic BJ Botha, more than held its own against one of the best packs in European rugby.
Donncha O’Callaghan, aided and abetted by Billy Holland, roamed around the paddock with tremendous intent, retaining possession excellently and winning considerable ball on the deck.
Behind them, the back row of James Coughlan, Paddy Butler and new signing Sean Dougall could also reflect on a good night’s work, adapting well to the new rule changes while also competing well at the breakdown.
The half-back pairing of Duncan Williams and Ian Keatley have clearly benefited from their pre-season playing time, and they coped well after Edinburgh’s early offensive pressure.
And it’s to Penney’s credit that he trusted both men to steer Munster through a choppy period before Williams’ late replacement by the returning Peter Stringer.
But it was at midfield where Penney and back coach Simon Mannix will have drawn the greatest solace of all from a disciplined and, at times, flair-laced display.
James Downey and Casey Laulala appear to have developed a tremendous understanding in double-fast time, with both demonstrating their line-breaking and offloading élan.
Wingers Luke O’Dea and Doug Howlett put in fantastic shifts, with the new captain’s through kick instrumental in setting Keatley across the line for Munster’s opening try. O’Dea, who has bulked up considerably over the summer, took his match-clinching try superbly, after dashing on to a beautifully timed Downey offload.
Between them, Denis Hurley was masterful under the high ball and formed part of a back line approach that bodes well for the long season ahead.
While there’s always the prospect of an upfront arm-wrestle with Treviso, Munster’s offensive threat ought to provide them with an edge come tomorrow evening’s full-time whistle. So expect the men in red to maintain their early season momentum.
Munster: Denis Hurley; Doug Howlett capt, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Luke O’Dea; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, Stephen Archer; Donncha O’Callaghan, Billy Holland; Dave O'Callaghan, Sean Dougall, James Coughlan.Replacements: Mike Sherry, Dave Kilcoyne, BJ Botha, Dave Foley, Paddy Butler, Peter Stringer, Scott Deasy, Ivan Dineen.
Benetton Treviso: B Williams; L Nitoglia, A Sgarbi, L Morisi, T Iannone; A Di Bernardo, E Gori; M Rizzo, E Ceccato, L Cittadini; A Pavanello capt, V Bernabo; S Favaro, D Budd, P Derbyshire. Replacements: G Maistri, A De Marchi, I Fernandez-Rouyet, C Van Zyl, R Barbieri, A Zanni, F Semenzato, K Burton.
Dermot Keyes writes for The Munster Express and Emerald Rugby