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Thursday 18 July 2019

Munster leapfrog rivals with a five-star victory


Munster's Simon Zebo on his way to scoring his side's fourth try
Munster's Simon Zebo on his way to scoring his side's fourth try
Duncan Casey, Munster, is tackled by Nathan Fowles, Edinburgh
Munster's Keith Ealrs on his way to score a try

Five-try Munster took a significant step towards a home Pro12 semi-final after they romped to victory against Edinburgh and leap-frogged Ulster into second place on scoring difference.

Duncan Casey crossed before the break for Munster, who wrapped up the maximum return as CJ Stander, Conor Murray, Simon Zebo and Keith Earls all ran in tries after the restart. Armed with the knowledge that top four rivals Ulster, Glasgow and Ospreys had all earned bonus point wins earlier in the weekend, Munster were fully aware of the task in hand to keep in touch.

And perhaps the increased pressure stymied Anthony Foley's side early on as inaccuracies in attack and ill-discipline at set-piece - BJ Botha was picked out by Ian Davies for special attention at the scrum - bedevilled their play.

Botha conceded the first of his three first-half penalties after four minutes for a chop tackle without hands on David Denton and Tom Heathcote easily kicked Edinburgh into a 3-0 lead.

A smart breakout of his own 22 from Tommy O'Donnell finally put Munster on the front foot and when Tom Leonardi strayed offside, Ian Keatley levelled matters after 20 minutes.

While the Munster scrum walked a disciplinary tightrope, the Edinburgh defensive maul did likewise, and when Davies dished out a warning for multiple sins, Munster immediately mauled again and Duncan Casey squirrelled over seven minutes from half-time.

Keatley's conversion gave Munster a 10-3 lead at the break.

But five minutes later there was no stopping Stander, who was in prime position to benefit from Munster's dominant rolling maul.

Edinburgh flyer Tim Visser was sin-binned for slowing down Munster ball as Foley's side went in search of tries and with the numerical advantage the openings soon arrived.

It only took Munster four minutes to pick up their third try off their maul - this time Murray's broke off the back and eased past Ross Ford to score in the right corner, and Keatley added the conversion for a 22-3 lead.

The bonus point looked a certainty at this stage and 17 minutes from time Zebo clinched the maximum haul when got his fingertips and downward pressure on the ball, before Earls ran in a fifth soon after.

Scorers - Edinburgh: T Heathcote pen. Munster: D Casey, CJ Stander, C Murray, S Zebo, K Earls tries, I Keatley 3 cons, pen.

Edinburgh: G Tonks (T Brown 68); D Fife, P Burleigh (S Beard 55), A Strauss, T Visser; T Heathcote, N Fowles (G Hart 55); A Dickinson (G Shiells 72), R Ford, WP Nel (J Andress 72); A Bresler (F McKenzie 52), B Toolis; R Grant, H Watson, D Denton (T Leonardi 14) (S McInally 52).

Munster: F Jones (D Williams 71); K Earls (R O'Mahony 65), A Smith, D Hurley, S Zebo; I Keatley (JJ Hanrahan 65), C Murray D Kilcoyne (J Cronin 52), D Casey (E Guinazu 62), BJ Botha (S Archer 62); B Holland (D Ryan 52), P O'Connell; P O'Mahony, T O'Donnell, CJ Stander.

Referee: Ian Davies (WRU).

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