Murray shows no signs of ring-rust in Munster return
Zebre7 Munster 32
Conor Murray finally made his seasonal bow and Munster returned to second in Conference B of the PRO14 with a bonus-point victory over Zebre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
The 29-year-old may have missed all of Ireland's November internationals but he certainly didn't lack the spark that has made him one of the best scrum-halves in the world.
He replaced Neil Cronin in the 51st minute and Chris Farrell was also brought on at that stage, after first-half tries from Fineen Wycherley and Kevin O'Byrne put Munster clear. They were 17-0 ahead at the interval.
Conor Oliver and Jaco Taute also returned from injury while Ronan O'Mahony crowned his first senior game since February 17 with the killer third try late on. Murray was of course involved again, a quality display from the main man.
And there was still time for Murray to gift Rory Scannell with Munster's bonus-point try in a brilliant team effort.
There was big pressure on Munster to win after Connacht's bonus-point victory at Southern Kings had given them second place in that standings prior to kick-off in Italy.
But the visitors played a smart game, frustrated Zebre, and came away with a good victory despite Renato Giammarioli's consolation.
Munster now turn their attention to the visit of Edinburgh to Irish Independent Park on Friday (7.35) as they look to close the gap on Glasgow at the top of Conference B.
International Rugby Newsletter
Zebre - G Di Giulio (C Canna 32); P Balekana, G Bisegni, T Boni, J Elliott; F Brummer, R Raffaele (J Renton 32, blood); C Ah-Nau (D Rimpelli 54), M Ceciliani (O Fabiani 54-57, 65), D Chistolini (E Bello 15-25, 54); L Krumov, D Sisi; J Tuivaiti (R Giammarioli 25, Biagi 73), M Mbandà (G Biagi 40-49), G Licata.
Munster - M Haley; R O'Mahony, R Scannell, T Bleyendaal A Wootton (J Taute 73); B Johnston (C Farrell 51), N Cronin (C Murray 51); J Loughman (B Scott 70), K O'Byrne (M Sherry 70), S Archer (C Parker 55-65); F Wycherley, D O'Shea (S O'Connor 65); G Coombes, C Cloete (C Oliver 59), A Botha.
Ref - Sam Grove-White (Scotland).