Gavin Coombes runs in four tries as Munster make hay against Zebre in Parma

Billy Holland comes off the bench to play his 247th and last match for the province

Zebre 11 Munster 54

At 26 degrees and sunshine, it wasn’t quite Thomond Park but Munster brought their own heat to the final Rainbow Cup match against Zebre in Parma, the Italian side trailing in a long second.

Without a win since February, Zebre contested for the first 25 minutes with outhalf Carlo Canna kicking two penalties before Munster began to open them up, effectively winning the game by half-time.

By then four tries were in the bag, the first from Number eight Gavin Coombes, the second from scrumhalf Craig Casey, Coombes again and then Casey on the half-time whistle with Joey Carbery converting all four for Munster to take a 28-6 lead into the break.


Munster hadn’t lost to Zebre for 16 meetings prior to the game and in the warm conditions showed that not much has changed over the years.

Niall Scannell scored Munster's fifth try on 47 minutes, again Carbery converting in a perfect kicking game for him. While Frederico Mori put a stop to the rout with a try on 58 minutes, it was to be a Munster family affair over the following 10 minutes as they instantly bounced back.

Liam Coombes, Gavin's cousin playing on the left wing, ran in from a long way out to make it 42-11 before Gavin completed his night with a third try and Munster's seventh that took them to a point short of the half-century.

By then Billy Holland had come off the bench to play his 247th and last match for Munster as it began to bubble over in the closing minutes.

Still, Munster ran the ball from their line in injury time in an effort to puncture the 50-point mark and that they did six minutes into injury time, Coombes running in his fourth and Holland afforded full military honours with the conversion (missed) and last kick of the match.

SCORING SEQUENCE – 9 mins: G Coombes try, J Carbery con, 7-0; 21: C Canna pen, 3-7; 25: C Canna pen, 6-7; 28: C Casey try, Carbery con, 6-14; 36: G Coombes try, Carbery con, 6-21; 40: Casey try, 6-28. Half-time. 47: N Scannell try, Carbery con, 6-35; 58: F Mori try, 11-35; 60: L Coombes try, Carbery con, 11-42; 69: G Coombes try, J Flannery con, 11-49; 80+6: G Coombes try, 11-54.

ZEBRE: J Trulla; G D'Onofrio, F Mori, E Lucchin, P Bruno; C Canna, M Violi; A Lovotti, L Bigi, M Nocera; D Sisi, L Krumov; I Bianchi, P Junior Leavasa, R Giammarioli.

Replacements: N Casilo for Violi (36 mins),; S Ortis for Krumov (40); G Licata and M Manfredi for Levasa and Bigi (both 45); D Rimpelli for Lovotti (48); F Di Marco for Trulla (53); N DiAmico for Nocera (58).

Yellow card: G D'Onofrio (85 mins).

MUNSTER: M Gallagher; A Conway, C Farrell, R Scannell, L Coombes; J Carbery, C Casey; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, J Ryan; J Kleyn, F Wycherley; P O'Mahony (capt), J O'Donoghue, G Coombes.

Replacements: L O'Connor for Kilcoyne, K O'Byrne for Scannell, R Salanoa for Ryan (all 53 mins); T Ahernes for Kleyn, C Cloete for O'Donoghue, J Flannery for Carbery (all 61); N McCarthy for Casey, B Holland for Wycherley (both 68).

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy).

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times