Boks star in Irish rout
PRO14 MONDAY WRAP: It was a double Irish rout on Monday as Round Eight of the competition concluded.
Munster smashed a hapless Zebre 52-3 at Thomond Park and Edinburgh was equally woeful against Ulster at Murrayfield – with the Irish province winning 43-14.
JJ Hanrahan pulled the strings from No.10 as Munster convincingly beat Zebre to maintain their unbeaten start with a seventh-consecutive win.
In the other match John Andrew scored a hat-trick as Ulster moved to the top of Conference A.
We look at Monday’s drama below the video!
Munster 52-3 Zebre
JJ Hanrahan pulled the strings from No.10 as Munster convincingly beat Zebre to maintain their unbeaten start to the Pro14 season with a seventh consecutive win.
Flyhalf Hanrahan scored one try, assisted another, kicked ten points in an impressive performance from the tee and dictated play in the 52-3 triumph, as his side racked up a 16th victory from 16 all-time meetings with their Italian foes.
Dan Goggin, Damian de Allende, Darren Sweetnam, Hanrahan, Seán French, Craig Casey and Thomas Ahern all crossed the whitewash, while the hosts also earned a penalty try at Thomond Park in a victory that extends their lead atop Conference B to 16 points.
Munster’s record against Italian sides is remarkable, with their winning run in all competitions now reaching 25 games, and Zebre’s wait for a second victory this season goes on.
Missing more than 20 players through injury and international call-ups, Zebre were perhaps destined to produce a disjointed performance and it took Munster just seven minutes to cross for the first try.
A cleanly-secured line-out was followed by JJ Hanrahan deftly chipping over the top with the ball bouncing nicely for Goggin to collect and dive over for his tenth try for the club.
To their credit, Zebre enjoyed a sustained spell of possession following that try and Paolo Pescetto slotted a penalty from in front of the posts before a blindside dart by Alessandro Fusco and a chip through from Pescetto almost saw them grab a try of their own.
But Munster weathered the storm and looked to have scored when Matt Gallagher gathered another Hanrahan chip, only for Zebre fullback Junior Laloifi to brilliantly dislodge the ball during the grounding.
That only delayed the inevitable however as Gavin Coombes picked up off the back of a dominant five-metre scrum and offloaded out the back of the hand to the supporting De Allende to crash over on 26 minutes.
The third try then came on 36 minutes when continued pressure in the Zebre 22 ended with visiting No.8 Lorenzo Masselli coming in from the side to stop an inexorable driving maul, earning himself ten minutes in the sin-bin and forcing the referee to award a penalty try.
And there was time for the four-try bonus point to be secured before half-time when first-phase line-out ball again proved decisive – Goggin slicing through a gap in the defence and passing to Sweetnam for the run-in.
Hanrahan scored the fifth try himself early in the second half, firstly exchanging passes with Goggin, then with Nick McCarthy as the scrumhalf popped the ball off the floor to the No.10 to dot down.
A resilient defensive stand on their own line then demonstrated the other side to Munster’s game before they got back to showing off their attacking talents with the ball going through the hands and debutant French – on for the injured Gallagher – acrobatically diving over in the corner.
Munster came close to further points throughout the second half but a combination of a lack of precision and determined Zebre defence meant it took until the final stages for try number seven when replacement No.9 Casey darted over off the back of a five-metre scrum.
And there was still time for one final try with the clock in the red as lock Ahern was the final man out wide for an easy canter over the line.
Play of the Day
Munster produced some scintillating attacking play in Limerick but their fifth try was perhaps the pick of the bunch.
JJ Hanrahan was at the heart of it as he darted forward, passed the ball to Dan Goggin, received it back and then immediately flicked it inside to Nick McCarthy.
The scrumhalf was tackled short of the line but popped the ball from the floor back to Hanrahan, who had continue to run a support line and the flyhalf dived over the line.
Player of the Match
JJ Hanrahan was sublime for Munster and the try he scored early in the second half – following brilliant link-up play with Dan Goggin and Nick McCarthy – was just reward for his all-round display.
He kept Munster’s attack ticking with consistently superb decision-making, kicked well from hand and the tee and made a statement to his head coach in a hotly-contested fly-half position.
Tries: Goggin, De Allende, Sweetnam, Hanrahan, French, Casey, Ahern, Penalty try
Cons: Hanrahan 5, penalty try does not require a conversion
Yellow card: Lorenzo Masselli (Zebre, 36 – cynical foul, collapsing maul)
Munster: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Dan Goggin, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Darren Sweetnam, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Nick McCarthy, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Billy Holland (captain), 4 Fineen Wycherley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Josh Wycherley.
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Liam O’Connor, 18 Keynan Knox, 19 Thomas Ahern, 20 Jack Daly, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Sean French.
Zebre: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Giovanni D’Onofrio, 13 Giulio Bisegni (captain), 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Pierre Bruno, 10 Paolo Pescetto, 9 Alessandro Fusco, 8 Lorenzo Masselli, 7 Alessandro Mordacci, 6 Mick Kearney, 5 Leonard Krumov, 4 Gabriele Venditti, 3 Alexandru Tarus, 2 Marco Manfredi, 1 Riccardo Brugnara.
Replacements: 16 Massimo Ceciliani, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Matteo Nocera, 19 Andrea Chianucci, 20 Oliviero Fabiani, 21 Simone Marinaro, 22 Alessandro Forcucci, 23 Jamie Elliott.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace, Eoghan Cross
TMO: Joy Neville
Edinburgh 14-43 Ulster
John Andrew scored a hat-trick as Ulster withstood a spirited Edinburgh fightback to win 43-14 at Murrayfield and move top of Conference A.
The visitors looked comfortable at 19-0 up after crossing three times inside the opening 25 minutes but Jack Blain scored either side of the break to take the visitors within five points.
Jamie Farndale had a try disallowed which would have drawn Edinburgh level but Jordi Murphy’s bonus point score restored the visitors’ cushion.
Cooney’s second made the game safe and two late tries from Andrew sealed his treble and ensured Ulster took advantage of Leinster’s Round 8 postponement to leapfrog their rivals at the summit.
Ulster were visiting Edinburgh for the first time since last season’s victorious Semi-Final and they were ahead inside three minutes on this occasion courtesy of a well-worked score.
Quick hands found Andrew and his pass back inside to Cooney allowed the scrum-half to provide Stewart Moore with a simple run in from the 22 for his third try in as many games.
The visitors suffered a setback when Rob Lyttle was forced off injured shortly afterwards – meaning an Ulster debut for jet-heeled youngster Aaron Sexton – but they held firm amid a spell of Edinburgh pressure with Marcell Coetzee imperious at the breakdown.
The Ulster pack then turned the screw at the other end as Andrew found a gap to cross for their second try off the back of a maul and Cooney did likewise next time they kicked to the corner, throwing a dummy and burrowing over from close range in trademark style.
The scrumhalf converted his own score to put Ulster 19-0 in front but Edinburgh gave themselves a lifeline before half time having kicked to the corner themselves.
There was no way through for the forwards but, when the ball came out, full-back Jack Blain picked a great line to dart over for his first senior try.
Nathan Chamberlain’s conversion reduced the deficit and Edinburgh’s pack received a morale boost as the half drew to a close with a big shove against the head to win a penalty at the scrum.
The second period began with Ulster 19-7 ahead, which can be a dangerous lead in this fixture – Edinburgh surrendered the same advantage in last season’s Semi-Final – and the hosts began on the front foot as they looked to give the Irish side a taste of their own medicine.
Richard Cockerill’s men were back within five points when Blain latched on to Eroni Sau’s offload to cross for his second, converted by Chamberlain.
Then came a moment of drama as Edinburgh thought they had drawn level in bizarre circumstances, with Jamie Farndale first to the rebound to go over after Chamberlain’s penalty had come back off the post.
The flyhalf was all set for the conversion attempt when the try went upstairs and was chalked off for offside, Farndale having been about a metre in front of the kicker when the penalty was struck.
Buoyed by their reprieve, Ulster went in search of the bonus point try and found it in familiar fashion as a maul again proved too hot for the hosts to handle.
This time it was Murphy who profited and a yellow card for the returning Bill Mata, not long on the field as a replacement, added insult to injury for Edinburgh.
Cooney’s second try settled matters late on as the scrum-half finished a fine move started by Ian Madigan and continued by a bulldozing run by Sam Carter, and the scrum-half’s conversion took his tally for the night to 18 points.
Another maul brought another try as Andrew went over for his second with six minutes to play and there was still time for the hooker to dive over for his hat-trick with the clock in the red.
While the final score was perhaps a tad harsh on the hosts, Ulster were clinical in wrapping up a fifth win in a row in this fixture and their sixth bonus point triumph in eight games this season.
Play of the Day
Ulster played some excellent rugby at Murrayfield and John Cooney’s second try was arguably the pick of the visitors’ seven.
A touch of class from Ian Madigan started the move as the fly-half dummied neatly before a superb offload out the back door found Sam Carter.
The skipper ate up the space in front of him and timed his pass to Cooney perfectly to set the scrum-half away to make the game safe.
Player of the Match
He may not have got on the scoresheet but captain Sam Carter was integral to Ulster’s triumph.
The giant lock was at the heart of their success in the maul area and also set up Cooney’s second try with a barnstorming run.
Tries: Blain 2
Cons: Chamberlain 2
Tries: Moore, Andrew 3, Cooney 2, Murphy
Edinburgh: 15 Jack Blain, 14 Eroni Sau, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Jamie Farndale, 10 Nathan Chamblerain, 9 Henry Pyrgos (captain), 8 Ally Miller, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Andrew Davidson, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Lee-Roy Atalifo, 2 David Cherry, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Sam Grahamslaw, 18 Dan Gamble, 19 Jamie Hodgson, 20 Viliame Mata, 21 Connor Boyle, 22 Charlie Shiel, 23 Alec Coombes.
Ulster: 15 Michael Lowry, 14 Matt Faddes, 13 James Hume, 12 Stewart Moore, 11 Rob Lyttle, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 John Cooney, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Sean Reidy, 5 Sam Carter (captain), 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Marty Moore, 2 John Andrew, 1 Andrew Warwick.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Roberts, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 David O’Connor, 20 David McCann, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Bill Johnston, 23 Aaron Sexton.
Referee: Craig Evans
Assistant Referees: Hollie Davidson, David Sutherland
TMO: Charles Samson