Late flurry as Munster adds to SA teams' misery
URC MATCH REPORT: Munster scored two late tries as they added more misery to an already cheerless day for South African teams.
Tries by Chris Cloete and Simon Zebo in the final two minutes saw Munster beat the Sharks by the considerable margin of 42-17.
Up until that stage the Sharks had looked as if they could leave the match with a measure of respectability.
However, like the Bulls and Stormers earlier in the day, the Sharks learned what comes naturally for most of the teams they will encounter in the United Rugby Championship – you play to the bitter end.
The final scoreline – six tries to two, 42-17 – will be a stark reminder to the beaten Currie Cup finalists, the Sharks, that playing in Europe is far more demanding than what some pundits would have you believe.
* Did you miss any of the action? Top recap the drama, CLICK HERE!
Zebo marked his Munster return with two tries at Thomond Park.
The Cork man, who moved back from Racing 92 in the off-season, romped clear in the fifth minute, with further tries from Craig Casey and Gavin Coombes leaving it 20-3 at half-time.
Young No.8 Coombes completed his brace in the 50th minute – sealing the bonus point – before Henry ‘Boeta’ Chamberlain lifted the Sharks with an intercepted effort.
Although Yaw Penxe also sliced through for a classy score, Munster added a late gloss with replacement Chris Cloete and Zebo both crossing to add to a Ben Healy penalty.
The Sharks had nothing to show for their early dominance of possession – Curwin Bosch missed a penalty – and Munster stung them with an unconverted try against the run of play.
Zebo snapped up a loose offload and embarked on a 50-metre run-in down the left touchline, with Werner Kok unable to reel him in.
Munster applied pressure in the 25th minute, the visitors leaking a series of penalties, only for Thomas du Toit to rip the ball away, allowing the South Africans to clear the danger.
However, the former Munster prop saw yellow soon after, having infringed at a ruck, and Joey Carbery mopped up the three points for an 8-0 scoreline.
Bosch cancelled out that kick, rewarding a purposeful run from captain Phepsi Buthelezi, but Munster duly pushed on and took advantage of du Toit’s absence as Casey used a dummy to score from a close-in scrum.
A late bout of pressure from the Munster pack had Coombes burrowing over for Carbery to convert.
The second half was a stop-start affair but Munster bagged their bonus point when Coombes struck from two metres out.
Carbery added his second conversion before his floated pass was picked off by Chamberlain for the South Africans’ opening try of the competition.
In response to a monster Healy penalty, Penxe’s pacy finish – from a terrific Jeremy Ward offload – showed the Sharks’ attacking spark.
Nonetheless, Munster slammed the door shut with Cloete driving low for the line in the 77th minute, followed by Zebo’s classy closer two minutes later.
Player of the match
The smallest man on the pitch rose to the occasion once more as Munster scrum-half Casey took the award.
The 22-year-old caught Marius Louw out for his score down the short side of a scrum and he marshalled a try-hungry Munster pack around the pitch.
Play of the match
Munster saved the best for last as their sixth try of the night was a cracking team effort.
Quick hands across the line, including a peach of a pass from Mike Haley, released Dan Goggin who sent through an inch-perfect kick for Zebo to dot down in the left corner.
Tries: Zebo 2, Casey, Coombes 2, Cloete
Cons: Carbery 2, Healy
Pens: Carbery, Healy
For the Sharks
Tries: Chamberlain, Penxe
Cons: Bosch 2
Yellow card: Thomas du Toit (Sharks, 28 – repeated infringements, killing the ball at the breakdown)
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Dan Goggin, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Jack O’Donoghue, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Fineen Wycherley, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 Keynan Knox, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Thomas Ahern, 21 Rowan Osborne, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Chris Cloete
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Werner Kok, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (c), 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Khwezi Mona
Replacements: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Mpilo Gumede, 20 Ruben van Heerden, 21 Hyron Andrews, 22 Sanele Nohamba, 23 Jeremy Ward
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Dermot Blake (Ireland),
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)