As expected Munster overcame Treviso with bonus point 34-14 point win at the Stadio Monigo to secure a home semi final in two weeks time against a yet unconfirmed opponent.
Rassie Erasmus’ side ran in five tries with the ever impressive winger Darren Sweetnam grabbing a brace to copper-fasten a Thomond Park semi final with a round to spare.
With Billy Holland a late withdrawal due to illness, Donnacha Ryan came into the starting 15 and the captaincy went to Tyler Bleyendaal.
Early injuries on the pitch did little for the rhythm of the game as both Dave O’Callaghan and Ronan O’Mahony cried off injured in the 11th minute.
CJ Stander and the in form Alex Wootton were introduced as Munster went in search of the opening score.
After finally settling into their rhythm in Parma, Sweetnam scored Munster’s opening try when he went in at the corner on 25 minutes, with Simon Zebo adding another after 32 minutes, which stand-in skipper Tyler Bleyendaal converted.
Bleyendaal also put over a penalty which saw Munster take a 15-0 lead into half-time.
In typical Munster fashion, they were doing what needed to be done without setting the world alight. A fifteen point lead was commanding but again Erasmus and the coaching staff will not be happy with some of the unforced errors in the first 40 minutes.
Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan was withdrawn for a head injury assessment soon after the restart.
Treviso full-back David Odiete was the home side’s biggest attacking threat and he got on the scoresheet eight minutes into the second half when he exposed space on the flanks, his try converted by Ian McKinley to reduce the deficit to 15-7.
The score acted as a wake up call and Munster restored their advantage shortly after when Francis Saili’s looping pass released replacement Alex Wootton down the right to score a third try on 64 minutes. The Garryowen winger was fresh from his exploits in the British and Irish Cup last weekend when he scored a scintillating try to clinch the cup.
Shortly afterwards, UL Boh’s Jack O’Donoghue barged over from close range for a 4th try to secure a bonus point.
With the clock ticking past 70 minutes, Darren Sweetnam showed fantastic football skills to latch on to his own kick and dot down for his second try of the evening with Bleyendaal adding another conversion.
Treviso, who had recently defeated Edinburgh and play-off contenders Ospreys, scored a late try from close-range by Jean-Francois Montauriol.
The victory sees Rassie Erasmus’ side keep the pressure up on Leinster to take a top seeding in the play-offs.
As it stands, Munster would be playing the Scarlets at home with Leinster entertaining the Ospreys. Ulster’s top 4 hopes are hanging by a thread after going down to a 24-10 defeat away at the Ospreys.
Scarletts at home would give Munster a chance to banish the memories of a horror show in the regular season which saw them cough up a 21-point lead to suffer a rare home defeat.
Munster will complete their regular-season matches against Connacht at Thomond Park next weekend.