Zebo leads way with hat-trick against Zebre

Rout at Thomond Park secures bonus-point victory for impressive Anthony Foley's side

 Munster and Ireland wing Simon Zebo runs in for his third against Zebre at Thomond Park. Photograph: Billy Stickland / Inpho

Munster and Ireland wing Simon Zebo runs in for his third against Zebre at Thomond Park. Photograph: Billy Stickland / Inpho

 

Munster 31 Zebre 5

Munster went about writing the wrongs of two weeks ago as the sublime Simon Zebo bagged a first-half hat-trick and helped the home side to a facile bonus-point victory at Thomond Park.

A loss to Edinburgh in Anthony Foley’s first home game as Munster coach was not acceptable, but his troops showed their true colours last night with a powerful and attractive display in front of 12,488 supporters.

It only took Zebo 24 minutes to complete his hat-trick and wrap up the win for the home side and three minutes after the restart he laid on a first try in Munster colours for Andrew Smith since his summer move from the Brumbies.

As the replacements rolled on in the second-half Munster seemed happy to close out the game, but 15 minutes from time Dave Kilcoyne finished off the game in style for the home side when he barged over from close range.

But Foley will be delighted to pick up a second win in a week after last week’s triumph against Treviso. The foundations for the victory were set by playing the game in the right areas early on, before the home side’s class out wide told.

Like they did in the early stages against Ulster last week, Zebre were very competitive early on and matched Munster in the tight, with Quentin Geldenhuys and George Biagi proving particularly abrasive.

But Munster looked far slicker when the ball was shifted wide and a set move off the back of a rock solid scrum allowed Andrew Smith send Zebo in for his first in the left corner.

Johnny Holland’s first competitive start for Munster came to a premature end because of a shoulder injury picked up in the 21st minute. But his replacement, JJ Hanrahan, picked up where he left off and kept the back line ticking.

Just after the half-hour mark Zebo struck again for Munster. Ronan O’Mahony almost got away after he burst on to a booming Conor Murray box kick, but once the ball was swung wide via Billy Holland, Paddy Butler and Hurley, Zebo raced clear to bag his second.

Kelly Haimona missed a penalty form his own half for Zebre soon after, but Zebo completed his hat-trick in the 36th minute when Hanrahan broke the defensive line, drew the cover and sent the Cork flyer in behind the posts.

It was hard to see what Zebo could do in the second half to top his opening 40 minutes, but three minutes after the break he freed Andrew Smith down the left wing for the Australian’s first try for the province.

The opportunity to empty the bench early was taken by Foley as Munster handed a first-team debut to youngster Jack O’Donoghue.

Fifteen minutes from time Dave Kilcoyne crashed over in typical fashion after Paul O’Connell came close to a try of his own to complete the rout for Munster.

 

 

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