Wednesday 13 December 2017

Superb Zebre run to be extended

Munster's Ian Keatley in action during squad training. Photo: Sportsfile
Munster's Ian Keatley in action during squad training. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Munster will be bidding to extend a near perfect record against Zebre when they clash in Parma tomorrow afternoon.

The Reds have won all six matches against Zebre in the Pro12 and have picked up try bonus points in all but one of those fixtures.

The 36-8 win two seasons ago is Munster's biggest league win over Zebre and only once have the Italians managed to get a losing bonus point.

That came in their league meeting three years ago - prior to that Aironi represented the Italian franchise - when Munster came out the right side of a 27-25 scoreline.

Their first meeting earlier that season saw Munster make home advantage count when they eased to a 29-3 win. Munster chalked up a 43-21 on their second visit to Parma and last season they won 31-7 in Italy, having won the home tie 31-5.

Zebre, after festive wins over Treviso and the postponement of their clash with champions Glasgow Warriors, will tomorrow bid to win three Pro12 games in a row for the first time. They have only played five home matches in the league so far this season, winning three of them.

They scored a 19-11 win over Edinburgh and then beat Cardiff Blues 26-15 before ousting neighbours Treviso 28-25 at Christmas. They have suffered home Pro12 defeats to Scarlets (8-20) and to Ospreys (22-39).

This will be Munster's sixth away game of the Pro12 campaign and tomorrow they will be looking for their fourth win on their travels.

All three away league victories so far have been won by two points. They won 20-18 away to Ospreys and 16-14 in Edinburgh before carving out a 9-7 success in Belfast.

The two away defeats were a 25-22 loss in Llanelli and a 22-6 reversal against the Dragons in Rodney Parade.

And as the marathon block of 15 games in a row comes to an end, Munster will bid to regroup and launch a big effort to regain the Pro12 title.

They have won four of their six home ties, with successes over Treviso, Glasgow Warriors, Cardiff Blues and Ulster, with their only home losses happening in derby matches against Connacht and Leinster.

Continuing their superb record against Zebre tomorrow would set themselves up well for the remainder of the campaign.

Irish Independent

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