Hanrahan excels as Munster cruise to victory
RABODIRECT PRO12 Munster 28 Zebre 3:ONCE AGAIN Munster left it late, but two tries from JJ Hanrahan and one each from Felix Jones and Luke O’Dea ensured the victory for Rob Penney’s side at Thomond Park. In his first start for the home side, Hanrahan excelled and his crisp passing and electric finishing helped Munster to their fourth win of the campaign.
Penney will be delighted to emerge from a difficult assignment with all five points, which sees them climb to third place for 24 hours at least. But after the second-half precession, it would be easy to forget a stuttering opening 40 minutes from the home side. After less than a minute’s action Zebre captain Gonzalo Garcia saw his very ambitious penalty kick from his own 10m line drop well short but, already the Italians had shown more enterprise than Edinburgh did in their visit to Thomond on Sunday last.
Dave Kilcoyne once more impressed at loose-head for Rob Penney’s side. But on the other side of the front row Stephen Archer had a difficult opening half coming to terms with veteran Salvatore Perugini.
And after successfully landing his previous 15 kicks in the competition, Ian Keatley’s 17th-minute penalty sailed wide of the target. But he took the first step on another run after 25 minutes, when a Zebre forward played the ball in the ruck and Keatley landed the kick from straight in front.
On his first senior start Hanrahan was guilty of another unforced error just after the restart, which ended a promising Munster attack, but by the 46th minute his name was in lights with his first Munster try. The score came after Donncha O’Callaghan made inroads up the left touchline and after a quick recycle the ball was switched right. And once the Zebre defence drifted wide to cover Luke O’Dea, Hanrahan pounced for the try himself.
Keatley nailed the difficult conversion to give Munster a 10-3 lead and after turning down a couple of kickable penalties – instead opting for the corner – the Munster pressure finally told.
And this time it was Jones who capitalised on the holes in Zebre rearguard after the move went left and then right off the back of an attacking Munster scrum. But Jones still had plenty to do and a typical mazey run guided him through the gap for his first try since his return from injury.
And 13 minutes from time Munster made sure of the win when Hanrahan ran through onto Keatley’s neat grubber kick to score and the out-half converted.
And just like last weekend’s Heineken Cup win, the bonus point arrived in the closing stages, when Luke O’Dea dived over in the right corner after Munster had laid siege on the Zebre line.
MUNSTER: F Jones; L O’Dea, C Laulala, JJ Hanrahan, S Zebo; I Keatley, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, S Archer; Donncha O’Callaghan, D Ryan; Dave O’Callaghan, P O’Mahony, P Butler. Replacements: M Horan for Kilcoyne (56 mins), D Varley for Sherry (56 mins), C Murray for Williams (56 mins), T O’Donnell for Butker (64 mins), J Murphy for Zebo (64 mins), B Holland for Ryan (66 mins).
ZEBRE: R Trevisan; D Odiete, G Garcia, D Halangahu, M Pratuchetti; A Chiesa, L Martinelli; S Perugini, A Manici, L Redolfini; E Caffini, J Sole; F Ferrarini, F Cristiano, D van Schalkwyk. Replacements: M Aguero for Perugini (h-t), D Giazzon for Manici (52 mins), D Ryan for Redolfini (52 mins), L Sarto for Garcia (52 mins), T Tebaldi for Chiesa (57 mins), F Cazzola for Caffini (61 mins), L Orquera for Odiete (61 mins), N Belardo for Cristiano (66 mins).
Referee: Neil Hennessy(WRU).