MUNSTER may not have been at their very best, but they did not have to be to easily see off a depleted Zebre side in their Pro14 encounter at Thomond Park on Monday night.
Munster opened the scoring in the 8th minute when returning centre Dan Goggin ran onto a delightful chip over the top by outhalf JJ Hanrahan to go over with ease, but Zebre quickly hit back with a 14th minute penalty from their No. 10 Paolo Pescetto.
Munster then had a Matt Gallagher try disallowed for a knock on when grounding in the 21st minute, but they set up camp on the Zebre line and eventually breeched it in the 27th minute through a first ever Munster try for World Cup winner Damien de Allende under the posts, after a wonderful offload from Gavin Coombes.
Munster were awarded a penalty try in the 37th minute after Zebre had illegally halted an attacking Munster maul, with number eight Lorenzo Masselli being sinbinned, and Munster took full advantage of their numerical advantage to score a simple try right on half time, when Goggin was able to put away left wing Darren Sweetnam for a simple finish, to leave Munster 28-3 ahead at the break, with the bonus point already securely in the bag.
Hanrahan then got Munster motoring in the second half when he dotted down in the 43rd minute after a well worked try in which he himself touched the ball three times throughout the move, and just three minutes later de Allende crossed again only for the try to be disallowed due to an obstruction from Jack O’Donoghue.
The next try was a debut score from 21-year old Cork Con winger Sean French, who will have been thrilled to score in the left corner after being assisted by man of the match Hanrahan in the 57th minute.
Replacement scrum half Craig Casey scored with a textbook snipe from the base of a 5m scrum in the 79th minute and Thomas Ahern had the last word with his first Munster try with the last play of the game.
Scorers for Munster: Hanrahan (1 try, 5 cons), Goggin, de Allende, Sweetnam, French, Casey, Ahern (1 try each), Penalty try.
Zebre: Pescetto (1 pen)
Munster: Gallagher; Nash, Goggin, de Allende, Sweetnam; Hanrahan, McCarthy; Wycherley, Marshall, Archer; Ahern, Holland (capt); O’Donoghue, Cloete, Coombes.
Subs: French for Gallagher (22), Healy for De Allende (55), Knox, O’Donnell, Daly for Archer, Cloete and Coombes (57), O’Connor and Barron for Wycherley and Marshall (62), Casey for McCarthy (75)
Zebre: Laloifi; D’Onorfrio, Bisegni, Lucchin, Bruno, Pescetto, Fusco: Brugnara, Manfredi, Tarus; Venditti, Krumov; Kearney, Mordacci, Masselli.
Subs: Ceciliani and Nocera for Manfredi and Tarus (40), Marinaro for Fusco (53), Chianucci and Elliott for Mordacci and Laloifi (61)
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales).