MUNSTER came from 12-0 down early on to score six tries to ultimately run out comfortable winners over Benetton in their URC clash at the Stadio Monigo on Saturday afternoon.
Both sides showed real intent from the get-go, and it was Benetton that struck first, as they showed some wonderful offloading, with Jacob Umaga putting centre Marco Zanon away to score in the left corner in the 7th minute.
Just five minutes later and they were in again. The dangerous Rhyno Smith showed how elusive he can be in broken play, and he was able to get his pass away to Ignacio Mendy, who had the gas to score in the right corner.
Munster took those early punches on the chin and gave a dig right back in the 17th minute when Calvin Nash chipped down the wing, regathered and was able to put scrum-half Paddy Patterson away for an excellent try.
After being 12-0 down early on Munster led by the 31st minute, when openside John Hodnett blasted through a tackle in midfield to race at the Benetton posts, and he was able to release the supporting Jack O’Sullivan to score.
However, Umaga slotted a penalty in the 39th minute to ensure his side led 15-14 at the break.
In the 43rd minute, Munster scored a superb try, with the ball going from right to left through eight pairs of hands before Liam Coombes fed the loitering Hodnett out wide, and although he seemed to have run out of space he simply barrelled through the attempted tackle to run in a fabulous score.
For the second weekend in a row, Ben Healy spent 10 minutes in the sin bin after he was found to have been guilty of a deliberate knock-on, which allowed Umaga to slot a 47th penalty to reduce the Munster lead to 18-21.
Despite being a man short it was Munster who struck next. Roman Salanoa punched a big hole down the middle, and with Paddy Patterson orchestrating matters the pack got the job done. O’Sullivan got close, but there was to be no stopping Jean Kleyn, who barged over in the 51st minute.
Healy returned to the pitch in the 57th minute but Munster remained at fourteen men, as Diarmuid Barron was yellow-carded simultaneously. Benetton took full advantage of the extra man as they scored off first-phase possession from the next scrum with Zanon putting Mendy away in the right corner to make it a five-point game.
Munster made sure when Antoine Frisch scored in the left corner in the 72nd minute after a brilliant kick pass from Healy, and Joey Carbery added another in the 77th minute. Mendy scored again at the death to complete his hat-trick, but it was a mere consolation.
Umaga (2 pens, 2 cons), Mendy (3 tries), Zanon (1 try).
Carbery (5 cons, 1 try), Patterson, O’Sullivan, Hodnett, Kleyn, Frisch (1 try each).
Smith; Mendy, Zanon, Drago, Bellini; Umaga, Duvenage (c); Tetaz, Maile, Pasquali; Lazzaroni, Favretto; Pettinelli, Izekor, Stowers.
Watson for Bellini (32), Wegner for Lazzaroni 47), Steyn for Stowers (51), Albanese for Smith (54), Bernasconi for Maile (55), Alongi and Smith for Pasquali and Albanese (64).
Daly; Nash, Frisch, Fekitoa, Coombes; Carbery, Patterson; J Wycherley, N Scannell (c), Salanoa; Kleyn, F Wycherley; O'Sullivan, Hodnett, Kendellen.
Healy for Nash (20), Barron, Archer and Hurley for N Scannell, Salanoa and Kleyn (54), N Scannell for Coombes (57), R Scannell for Fekitoa (66), Quinn for O’Sullivan (73).
Ben Blain (SRU)