Earls hat-trick helps Reds to big victory
Munster 44 Edinburgh 14
Keith Earls ran in an eight-minute hat-trick as Munster hammered a weakened Edinburgh at Irish Independent Park.
There were two tries each for Andrew Conway and Chris Farrell - who made his first start of the season following a knee injury - while Tyler Bleyendaal also got in on the act with a score in the second half.
Conor Murray finished the game on the wing for Munster following an injury for Conway, but it was a carefree run to the finish for the home side.
Edinburgh were second best by a distance and could only reply with two Duhan van der Merwe tries, but Munster warmed up nicely for their Champions Cup return against Castres.
Farrell got the opening try after just four minutes and for the second time in ten minutes Munster scored off a lineout. Again Munster dummied to set a maul, but played wide off Chris Cloete while JJ Hanrahan's inside pass sent Conway through a hole near the back of the lineout and he ran clear to score.
There was no excuse for the defending of the third Munster try that arrived four minutes later, when Farrell managed to suck in three defenders with a clever pass out the back, and Conway easily finished in the corner for a 19-0 lead.
Three tries down it looked worrying for Edinburgh, but they hauled themselves back into the game by the 21st minute when Van der Merwe scored to put 12 points between the sides.
But that was just a brief interlude to Munster's dominance and their bonus-point try arrived after just half an hour. This time the Munster pack elected to maul with Arno Botha in charge at the back, but when it was stopped just short of the line, Murray fired a rapid pass to Earls who scored in the left corner.
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Earls only had to wait four minutes to score his second try and it was Munster's best effort. Farrell showed great footwork and power to break through the defence, he passed to Haley and with the tackles closing in he looped a ball to the Ireland winger.
Munster were already 29-7 ahead and the only downside was Hanrahan's four missed conversions. But Earls completed his wonderful eight-minute hat-trick two minutes before the interval when he scored after some more heroics from Conway and Haley.
But the seventh Munster try did arrive 16 minutes from time, and it was scored by replacement out-half Bleyendaal who scored down the blindside of a dominant Munster scrum to make it 39-7 for the home side.
There was time for one more Edinburgh highlight when Van der Merwe in for his side try 11 minutes from time, but that was as good as it got for the Scottish outfit.
And at the death Farrell crowned his first start for Munster since January when he crashed over in the corner three minutes from time to open the winning margin out to 30 points.