RaboDirect PRO12: Munster beat Treviso to stay perfect at home
Last Updated: 23/03/14 7:12am
Keith Earls: Set Munster on their way to victory with first-half try
Munster maintained their 100 per cent home record in the RaboDirect PRO12 with a 14-3 victory over Benetton Treviso at Thomond Park.
The performances of Johne Murphy and man-of-the-match Felix Jones stood out in a drab encounter that was decided by James Downey's second-half try.
The result saw Munster get back to winning ways and climb back into second place in the standings ahead of next weekend's crunch Aviva Stadium clash with leaders Leinster.
Treviso, who managed to beat Munster at home earlier in the season, took a third minute lead thanks to a 35-metre penalty from Mat Berquist.
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell was pulled out of the hosts' line-up before kick-off due to shoulder problem, although he did appear on the pitch at half-time with the Six Nations trophy.
Italy international Angelo Esposito was prominent during Treviso's promising start and the visitors held onto their lead as JJ Hanrahan pulled a 20th minute penalty wide.
Misfiring Munster threatened the try-line for the first time when Casey Laulala kicked through for fit-again wing Keith Earls, but Esposito was alive to the danger.
Hanrahan uncharacteristically sent a second kickable penalty to the left and wide after Manoa Vosawai collapsed a maul.
Berquist slid a long range penalty wide before Munster conjured up a timely opening try. Fly-half Hanrahan broke through the middle and fed Earls for a smart finish past the covering Ludovico Nitoglia.
Treviso felt Hanrahan's pass had gone forward but television match official Dermot Moloney and referee Leighton Hodges ruled otherwise, and Hanrahan converted for a four-point advantage.
A second missed penalty from Berquist added to the Italian side's frustration as they went into half-time 7-3 behind.
Munster also upped the ante in the scrum after the break, winning a series of penalties in the Treviso 22, and the pressure told when repeated early pushing led to Giovanni Maistri being yellow carded.
Back-pedalling Treviso somehow won a relieving penalty at the next scrum and then Earls knocked on as Laulala attempted to put him over in the right corner.
But the hosts moved 14-3 clear when Hanrahan played in centre Downey to duck under Christian Loamanu's challenge and score by the left corner flag. The increasingly influential Hanrahan then nailed his most difficult kick of the night from the touchline.
Treviso blundered in their attempts to respond. Michele Campagnaro knocked on in a promising position and Berquist's touchfinder from a penalty went out on the full as Munster saw out the win.