Monday 26 June 2017

Record breaker Simon Zebo the toast of Thomond as Munster comprehensively beat Zebre

Munster 47 Zebre 0

Simon Zebo, Munster, celebrates after scoring his side's second try with team-mates Ronan O'Mahony and Ian Keatley
Simon Zebo, Munster, celebrates after scoring his side's second try with team-mates Ronan O'Mahony and Ian Keatley

Simon Zebo became Munster's all-time top try scorer as his side recorded a much-needed 47-0 bonus point win over Zebre in the Guinness PRO12.

Zebo's second-half brace at Thomond Park took him to 43 tries in 97 provincial appearances, thus ending Anthony Horgan's 41-try record which stood for seven years.

Munster took a 14-0 lead into half-time having played into a very strong wind, with Ronan O'Mahony's 26th-minute try adding to an early penalty try.

The home side failed to fully punish Zebre for successive yellow cards (Quintin Geldenhuys and Giulio Toniolatti), but they soon stormed clear thanks to a run of touchdowns from Zebo (2), CJ Stander and Conor Murray, along with a second penalty try.

Zebre defended well in a slow-burning start, but Munster scored from their first real opportunity. Having turned down a central penalty, Munster drove forward ominously and Zebre captain Geldenhuys leaked an 11th-minute penalty try for pulling down the maul.

The penalties kept coming against Zebre, hands in the ruck from Geldenhuys - in front of his posts - saw him sin-binned in the 23rd minute and Munster took immediate advantage.

Simon Zebo, Munster, celebrates after scoring the 3rd try against Zebre. Guinness PRO12 Round 18, Munster v Zebre. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Simon Zebo, Munster, celebrates after scoring the 3rd try against Zebre. Guinness PRO12 Round 18, Munster v Zebre. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

From an advanced scrum position, the ball was moved wide for winger O'Mahony to go over in the left corner off Rory Scannell's pinpoint skip pass. Johnny Holland added a superb conversion from the touchline for 14-0.

A stamp on Tommy O'Donnell's leg at a ruck earned Toniolatti 10 minutes in the bin, yet Munster's misfiring ways were summed up by a late maul chance that was quickly grounded.

Their clinical edge returned seven minutes into the second period, with Darren Sweetnam leading a surge up the right wing and Zebo burned past Kayle van Zyl on the outside to raid in behind the posts.

Turnover ball in front of their posts led to a fine breakaway score just two minutes later, Sweetnam and Ian Keatley darting downfield to tee-up Zebo's second seven-pointer.

Fellow international returnees Stander and Murray then got in on the scoring act, with a brilliant break and offload from O'Donnell teeing-up Stander, and then Murray sniped over off a lineout drive.

Holland's ever-accurate left boot supplied the extras, putting 40 points between the sides, and struggling Zebre suffered their third yellow card when replacement front rower Bruno Postiglioni walked for repeated scrum infringements.

Conor Murray converts the fourth try. Guinness PRO12 Round 18, Munster v Zebre. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Conor Murray converts the fourth try. Guinness PRO12 Round 18, Munster v Zebre. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

With the Italians' set piece giving way again, Munster gained a second penalty try in the 73rd minute to top off an important result and performance following last week's poor outing in Cardiff.

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