Munster finally overcome Zebre for bonus point 31-12 win

Credit: @Munsterrugby

A game that was expected to deliver an easy bonus-point win for Munster saw a terrible first half performance from the home side leave them trailing at the interval, before the introduction of heavyweights such as Chris Farrell and especially Tyler Bleyendaal in the second period, finally saw the home side come out 31-12 winners.

In a poor first-half performance from Munster, it was Zebre winger Jamie Elliott who opened the scoring in the 9th minute as Michael Bradley’s side touched down in front of the West Stand. The conversion attempt from Carlo Canna faded left and wide meaning the visitors were 5-0 ahead.

Roberto Tenga went over 10 minutes later for his side’s second five-pointer of the evening when a ball dinked forward bounced off Munster fullback Mike Haley before the Zebre prop collected the ball to score. Canna made no mistake with this conversion attempt from in front of the posts as he pushed his side to a 12-0 advantage.

Canna could have stretched his side’s lead in the 35th minutes when missing a penalty from midfield, halfway between the halfway and 10m lines. Minutes later, the Zebre kicker again failed to score his penalty kick attempt, meaning the Italian missed 3 of his 4 kicks at the posts in the opening half.

With the clock in red at the end of the opening 40 minutes, Munster prop Jeremy Loughman scored his first try for the province when coming off the back of the home side’s rolling mall, crashing over to give the southern province a score they scarcely deserved based on their opening half performance. JJ Hanrahan’s conversion attempt failed when the Kerryman’s kick hit the left upright, leaving Zebre in a 12-5 lead at the interval.

Munster introduced returning Ireland international Chris Farrell only 5 minutes after the re-start as winger Alex Wootton was replaced. Tyler Bleyendaal replaced JJ Hanrahan on 51 minutes as Johann van Graan started to bring the big-name players onto the field.

Munster kicked for touch when awarded a penalty midway between the 10m and 22m lines of Zebre after the 50 minute mark. With the home side winning the lineout, they got the maul going as they headed with pace towards the try-scoring line. Hooker Rhys Marshall scored the try when touching down, before an excellent Tyler Bleyendaal kick from in front of West Stand levelled the scores at 12-12 with 54 minutes on the clock.

When again given a further opportunity to kick for the posts, Zebre again missed, this time having the misfortune of hitting the upright. South African Chris Cloete was yellow-carded for coming over the ruck with a flying hand but Pallazzani’s kick hit the upright, leaving the teams on level terms.

Cork winger Darren Sweetnam put Munster ahead for the first time in the game when on the receiving end of his side’s best move of the night in the 65th minute. The ball originally moved right by Bleyendaal eventually found Sweetnam with space on the right wing as he comfortably went over for his 5th try of the season. Bleyendaal missed the difficult conversion attempt from 43m out, but minutes later the 4th bonus-point try was achieved by van Graan’s men as Niall Scannell scored. This time, kicker Bleyendaal succeed, making it double scores, Munster 24 Zebre 12.

With only minutes remaining on the clock Munster’s fullback Mike Haley burst through the tiring Zebre defence to score his side’s 5th try of the game with the impressive Bleyendaal again adding the extras for a final score of Munster Rugby 31 Zebre Rugby 12.

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