Munster secure home quarter-final
Published 19/01/2014 | 15:27
Munster motored their way to a home Heineken Cup quarter-final as they brushed Edinburgh aside 38-6 at Thomond Park.
Rob Penney's men gained revenge for their first-round defeat at Murrayfield, comfortably securing the bonus point which gives them home advantage in the last-eight in April.
Man-of-the-match James Coughlan and Johne Murphy touched down in a first half which ended 12-6 in Munster's favour, with Edinburgh flanker Cornell du Preez seeing yellow in injury-time.
Two Greig Laidlaw penalties kept Edinburgh in the hunt for an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final place, but those hopes faded as the Irish province registered their bonus point by the 57th minute.
Captain Peter O'Mahony followed Conor Murray over the try-line and further efforts from Simon Zebo and Felix Jones made for a stylish six-try romp.
Munster seem to save some of their best rugby for round six, as this was their fourth successive bonus-point success at this stage - adding to wins in previous years over London Irish, Northampton Saints and Racing Metro 92.
Edinburgh silenced the capacity Limerick crowd in the opening minutes, Tom Brown almost reaching Greig Tonks' cross-field kick although Laidlaw drew his first penalty attempt wide.
Laidlaw made no mistake with his second place-kick, punishing a scrum offence by Dave Kilcoyne - but Munster were lightning quick to respond.
Paul O'Connell rose to take the restart and after a neat spread of passes out to the left, number eight Coughlan - a notable absentee from Ireland's Six Nations squad - cut in on a terrific angle to arrow his way over for the opening try.
Ian Keatley's conversion attempt came back off the left-hand post, but the pattern has been set and Munster gained the upper hand in the scrum as their push for tries gathered pace.
The Edinburgh defence splintered far too easily in the 22nd minute - back rowers David Denton and Roddy Grant both missing tackles - as winger Murphy, fed from a scrum, stepped clean through and in behind the posts.
Keatley added the extras for a 12-3 lead before Laidlaw hit back with a second left-sided penalty, and the second quarter was quite an even affair.
Replacement Zebo, on for the injured Keith Earls, combined with O'Connell to bring down Laidlaw just short of the try-line, following a promising set of phases from the Scots.
However, Edinburgh lost the services of Du Preez after referee Wayne Barnes sin-binned him for 'recklessly leading with the head' when attempting to clear out O'Connell at a ruck.
The second half was just four minutes old when scrum-half Murray plunged over from a close-range ruck for his try, with Tommy O'Donnell and Coughlan tearing through the Edinburgh defence in the build-up.
Keatley's pinpoint conversion from the left put Munster 13 points clear and some neat touches from Zebo kept the province on the front foot.
The bonus point was in their grasp by the hour mark, skipper O'Mahony showing great strength to barge past three defenders and stretch over by the posts, with Keatley converting.
Murray then fed Zebo for a simple finish in the left corner and Edinburgh crumbled further under the weight of forward pressure, ending the game with replacement prop Geoff Cross in the sin-bin.
Zebo's lovely delayed pass sent full-back Jones over in the right corner and Keatley's cracking conversion was a fitting way to end a Munster-dominated second half.