Gavin Coombes bagged an 84th-minute bonus-point try as Munster overcame the 14-man Scarlets in a 29-10 Guinness PRO14 win at Thomond Park.

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Opening his try account at senior level, the Cork-born replacement lock crossed twice during the final quarter as Munster’s Conference B rivals paid the price for Sam Lousi’s 33rd-minute red card and a late Tevita Ratuva sin-binning.

The third-placed Scarlets trailed 10-3 at half-time, with Munster Academy number eight Jack O’Sullivan touching down soon after Tongan lock Lousi’s dismissal for punching during an off-the-ball incident.

Munster captain Billy Holland and Scarlets replacement Javan Sebastian traded tries either side of the hour mark but Ratuva’s 70th-minute yellow card opened the way for Coombes to grab a closing brace which leaves Munster only two points behind table-topping Edinburgh.

Scarlets overcame hooker Taylor Davies’ early departure with a leg injury to make a bright start in wet and windy conditions. Angus O’Brien missed a long-range penalty before Uzair Cassiem’s work at the breakdown was rewarded with the opening points from Jones.

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Aaron Shingler stole a couple of lineouts and Josh Macleod added another turnover penalty to his collection but Munster came good at the midpoint of the first half, getting their maul going and marching forward through 28 phases with Chris Farrell to the fore.

Hanrahan’s straightforward 23rd-minute penalty levelled matters and a clever grubber kick from his half-back partner Craig Casey – following soft hands from James Cronin and man-of-the-match Kevin O’Byrne – forced O’Brien to concede a close-in lineout on the half-hour mark.

Scarlets leaked a penalty in holding Munster at bay and as an off-the-ball scuffle developed, Lousi aimed punches at both Hanrahan and Fineen Wycherley, earning a TMO review and an eventual red card. The breakthrough came soon after, O’Sullivan reacting quickly to pick up a loose ruck ball and turn out of Paul Asquith’s tackle to score.

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Hanrahan converted the Cork youngster’s first senior try and then watched an O’Brien penalty attempt fade just wide, early on the resumption. As Munster began to hunt down their second try, Jones had to scramble back to deny Mike Haley from a hack through.

Scarlets did fall further behind in the 51st minute, Cronin engaging defenders at a ruck and allowing Holland to go over unopposed in the left corner. Hanrahan’s excellent PRO14 streak of 22 successful kicks out of 22 ended with the missed conversion.

Capitalising on a series of penalties, the resilient Scarlets built impressively for prop Sebastian to burrow over for his first try for the region. Nonetheless, with the gap down to 15-10, Fijian lock Ratuva blundered when he lifted John Hodnett above the horizontal in a tackle and was promptly binned.

The athletic Coombes picked from a ruck to seal the result, Hanrahan adding a terrific conversion from far out on the left.

The bonus point was there for the taking, but Munster were running out of time as Ryan Conbeer produced a try-saving tackle on Darren Sweetnam and a maul was also held up.

Crucially, a brilliantly-weighted kick from Rory Scannell forced Steff Evans to concede a five-metre lineout. Following a bout of scrum pressure, the Munster forwards carried up close to the posts before Coombes reached out for another well-finished close-range effort, converted by Hanrahan.

– Press Association 

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