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Munster Rugby scored a bonus-point 45-7 win over Wasps at Thomond Park on Sunday afternoon, with Johann van Graan’s side set to play Exeter Chiefs in a two-leg tie in the knock-out stages of the Heineken Champions Cup.
Munster, who like the other Irish provinces had already qualified for the business end of the competition prior to today’s game, produced a dominant performance against the English Premiership Rugby side.
Murray opens the scoring
Conor Murray opened the scoring in usual circumstances. With Munster dominant in possession in the opening stages of the game, Wasps knocked the ball back to Murray when attempting to prevent Tadhg Beirne receiving possession. With many of the visitors believing Beirne had knocked the ball on, some stopped playing as Murray touched down.
The TMO was called into action, with the referee deciding, Beirne hadn’t knocked on when he consulted his officials and viewed the TV footage. Ben Healy added the extras to give the hosts a 7-0 lead within the first 10 minutes of the fixture.
With constant pressure from Munster, Wasps could not withstand the Munster effort and soon conceded a penalty. Healy opted to kick for the posts to extend his team’s advantage to 10-0.
Zebo now Munster’s highest try-scorer in Champions Cup
A deftly chipped through ball from Healy saw Simon Zebo, who was named in the starting team in place of Keith Earls, collect the ball and fight to touch down for his side’s second five-pointer of the afternoon, the first of two on the day for the former Racing 92 man.
The score saw the Corkman join Brian O’Driscoll as the third-highest try-scorer in Heineken Champions Cup history, and surpass the late Anthony Foley as Munster’s top try-scorer in the competition with 24 – it would become 25 later in the day. Ben Healy maintained his 100% record kicking for the posts by converting for 17-0 with less than 20 minutes on the clock.
ZEBO! ZEBO! ZEBO! 😄
Simon Zebo becomes @Munsterrugby‘s top European try scorer, surpassing the late great Axel Foley 🙏
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) January 23, 2022
Dan Robson finally got the Premiership club on the scoreboard when touching down right of the Munster posts in the 26th minute. With Charlie Atkinson adding the conversion, Wasps’ delight was short-lived as Munster immediately headed downfield.
O’Donoghue try on 150th appearance in red
With Wasps scrambling to get back into position, Gavin Coombes burst through the Premiership Rugby side’s defensive effort, before Jack O’Donoghue, on his 150th appearance in red, scored his side’s third try of the afternoon. The reliable Healy kicked the two points for a 24-7 lead with only 30 minutes played.
Gavin Coombes what a carry! 😳😅
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) January 23, 2022
Gavin Coombes paid the price for constant Munster infringements when yellow-carded minutes before half-time. With Wasps nestled on the Munster line, the home side were penalised a number of times before Coombes was sent to the bin.
With Johann van Graan’s men missing the powerful Coombes, Wasps would have expected to cross the line, but incredible defensive work from the men in red saw them hold out with the referee eventually awarding them a penalty, which relieved the pressure.
A neck injury for Wasps’ Thomas Young saw the player treated on the field with the game stopped for 10 minutes, before being stretchered off to respectful applause from the crowd. The back-row was replaced by Ben Morris.
Half-time: Munster Rugby 24 Wasps Rugby 7
Loughman secures bonus-point try
Prop Jeremy Loughman, named in the starting team earlier in the day when Dave Kilcoyne was sick, scored his first Champions Cup try within the opening minute of the second half.
Munster, who had a penalty kick, opted for the line-out and despite the absence of Coombes, who was still in the sin-bin, the men in red powerfully drove for the try-scoring line, before Loughman crashed over.
With the bonus-point try now secured, Ben Healy added another two points to the score board, which read 31-7 in favour of Munster, with 46 minutes on the stadium game clock.
As both sides emptied their benches, an action that took the continuity and flow out of the game, it didn’t prevent Munster striking for two further tries late in the game.
Simon Zebo scored a second try to the cheers of the Munster faithful, before Rory Scannell claimed a five-pointer with the clock in red. Both scores were converted by Jack Crowley, leaving Johann van Graan’s side 45-7 victors.
Today’s game gave more valuable Champions Cup experience to some of Munster’s younger players, while veteran of 150 appearances in red, Jack O’Donoghue was named Heineken Star of the Match. The Waterford man, at 27 years of age, becomes the youngest Munster player to reach the 150 milestone.
Final score: Munster Rugby 45 Wasps Rugby 7
15. Mike Haley, 14. Andrew Conway, 13. Chris Farrell, 12. Rory Scannell, 11. Simon Zebo, 10. Ben Healy, 9. Conor Murray.
1. Jeremy Loughman, 2. Diarmuid Barron, 3. Stephen Archer, 4. Jean Kleyn, 5. Tadhg Beirne, 6. Peter O’Mahony (captain), 7. Jack O’Donoghue, 8. Gavin Coombes.
16. Scott Buckley, 17. John Wycherley, 18. John Ryan, 19. Fineen Wycherley, 20. John Hodnett, 21. Craig Casey, 22. Jack Crowley, 23. Alex Kendellen.
Try: Murray, Zebo (2), O’Donoghue, Loughman, R Scannell
Conversion: Healy 4, Crowley (2)
15. Ali Crossdale, 14. Marcus Watson. 13. Paolo Odogwu, 12. Michael Le Bourgeois, 11. Josh Bassett, 10. Charlie Atkinson, 9. Dan Robson.
1. Tom West, 2. Tom Cruse, 3. Elliot Millar-Mills, 4. Elliott Stooke, 5. James Gaskell, 6. Brad Shields (captain), 7. Thomas Young, 8. Nizaam Carr.
16. Gabriel Oghre, 17, Rodrigo Martinez, 18. Pieter Scholtz, 19. Tim Cardall, 20. Ben Morris, 21. Will Porter, 22. Rob Miller, 23. Sam Spink.