Munster keep pressure on leaders
Munster closed the gap on Guinness PRO12 leaders Glasgow with a 34-3 victory in a one-sided game against Edinburgh at Murrayfield, gaining a much-needed try bonus point in the process.
Tries from Duncan Casey, CJ Stander, Conor Murray, Simon Zebo and Keith Earls, along with nine points from the boot of Ian Keatley were enough to secure the victory and ensure they rose to second in the table. In reply, Edinburgh could only muster a sole penalty from stand-off Tom Heathcote.
The hosts who made the greater impression in the opening stages, stringing together a series of phases that displayed real attacking intent.
That early tenacity was rewarded when Munster were penalised at the breakdown and fly-half Heathcote converted the resulting penalty. However, that was as good as it got for Edinburgh.
Keatley responded with an early penalty of his own, knocking over a 25-metre effort after Edinburgh replacement Tomas Leonardi had strayed offside at the ruck.
And it was Munster who deservedly notched the first try of the game, their bold decision to kick to the corner from a penalty within the Edinburgh 22 paying dividends.
Line-out ball was secured and the rolling maul rumbled over, allowing hooker Casey to touchdown. Keatley added the extras from wide on the touchline to give his side a seven-point advantage at the half-time interval.
The visitors began the second period at a visibly higher tempo and stretched their advantage with a try that mirrored their earlier score.
Once again, attacking line-out ball led to the formation of a dynamic rolling maul, and number 8 Stander was on hand to dot the ball down. Keatley was off the mark with his conversion effort.
Munster continued their march towards an emphatic victory with a third score, through scrum-half Murray.
With Edinburgh a man down after Tim Visser had been sin-binned for slowing down the ball, Murray sneaked down the blindside from the back of yet another driving maul. The Irish international then succeeded in fending off the challenge of Ross Ford before crashing over in the corner for a score converted by Keatley.
The try bonus point was secured in controversial fashion, when the TMO adjudged Zebo to have touched down despite appearing to have had minimal downward pressure on the ball, having chased down his own kick. Keatley was once again off target with the conversion.
Further gloss was added to the scoreline when Earls capitalised on a mistake in the Edinburgh ranks to snap up a loose ball and squeeze over from close range.
Keatley added the touchline conversion to conclude the scoring, rounding off a clinical display from Munster as they look to secure a home semi-final in the end of season play-offs.
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