Munster's late run too much for Zebre
PRO14 REPORT: Munster staged an impressive second-half comeback to overcome a stubborn Zebre side to record a bonus-point win at Thomond Park.
The Italian side were excellent in the first half and went 12-0 up inside 20 minutes as Jamie Elliot and Roberto Tenga scored fine tries.
The Red Army left it late in the half but crucially got on the board through Jeremy Loughman, then got second and third tries in the second half through Rhys Marshall and Darren Sweetnam.
Niall Scannell came on to grab the fourth and Mike Haley the fifth, a cruel ending for Zebre but Munster power on in Conference A.
The Italian side started like a house on fire at Thomond Park and after a spell of pressure got the opener on nine minutes, biding their time and then spinning out wide for wing Ellitot to dart into the corner.
Carlo Canna couldn’t convert from the touchline but his side were soon attacking Munster’s 22 again, going through 13 phases before prop Tenga collected a poke-through for Zebre’s second.
This time Canna converted for a 12-0 lead and that’s the way it stayed for most of the first half, the out-half missing two penalty attempts but Zebre’s patience in building through the phases the dominant storyline.
In first half added time though Munster finally got on the board, winning a scrum penalty and kicking to the corner before prop Loughman bundled over.
JJ Hanrahan was unluckily denied by the post with the acute conversion attempt to leave Zebre with a 12-5 lead at the break in front of a stunned Thomond Park.
You sensed the Red Army surge would come though and come it did in the second half, only to be met by staunch Zebre defence and smart positioning in the backfield, combined with accurate an accurate kicking display.
On 52 minutes though Munster received a penalty for a tip-tackle and capitalised with five points, hooker Marshall in for his fifth of the campaign off the back of a maul.
Replacement Tyler Bleyendaal converted impressively to level things at 12-12 but Zebre got a second wind through a strong running game, assisted as Chris Cloete saw yellow for infringing at the ruck.
Guglielmo Palazzani was unfortunate to hit the post and the pendulum swung back Munster’s way, with Bleyendaal first breaking through midfield before Sweetnam dived over in the corner.
Munster led 17-12 with 15 left to play but soon had the bonus-point score as Niall Scannell was driven over, Haley jinking his way over for the fifth at the death.
Tries: Loughman, Marshall, Sweetnam, Scannell, Haley
Cons: Bleyendaal 3
Tries: Elliott, Tenga
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Dan Goggin, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 CJ Stander (captain), 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Darren O’Shea 4 Fineen Wycherley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Jeremy Loughman.
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Liam O’Connor, 18 John Ryan, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Chris Farrell.
Zebre: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Gabriele Di Giulio, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 James Elliott, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Renato Giammarioli. 7 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 George Biagi (captain), 4 David Sisi, 3 Roberto Tenga, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Luhandre Luus, 17 Daniele Rimpelli, 18 Marco Ciccioli, 19 Leonard Krumov, 20 Apisai Tauyavuca, 21 Marcello Violi, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Mattia Bellini.
Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)
Assistant referee: Adam Jones (Wales), Mark Patton (Ireland)
TMO: Colin Stanley (Ireland)