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Zebre rally but can't touch Munster after first-half try blitz

By PA
Alex Nankivell with the ball in hand for Munster. Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Munster moved back into play-off territory in the BKT United Rugby Championship after beating battling Zebre Parma 45-29 at Virgin Media Park on the back of five first-half tries.

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Academy talent Ruadhan Quinn scored his first senior tries for Munster, whose attack was fluid but their defence was poor in allowing Zebre to bite back for a late bonus point.

Graham Rowntree’s men turned around with a 33-10 advantage, striking early on through Quinn and Mike Haley before closing out the first half with converted efforts from RG Snyman, Sean O’Brien, and Antoine Frisch.

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Quinn returned from the sin bin to double his tally as Munster moved 40-10 clear, but Zebre closed to within 11 points thanks to final-quarter tries from Thomas Dominguez, Geronimo Prisciantelli and Dylan de Leeuw, adding to Muhamed Hasa’s 18th-minute effort.

However, Shane Daly went over in the last minute to ensure Munster had the final say. Another positive on the night was fly-half Tony Butler’s 10 points from the tee as he celebrated signing his first Munster senior contract.

The sharpness the Irish province showed in winning a friendly against Harlequins last week was evident when Snyman offloaded off the ground for Quinn to cross in the fifth minute.

Full-back Haley surged clear for the hosts’ second try soon after, with Butler’s crisp conversion making it 12-0.

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Centre Damiano Mazza drew Zebre downfield before prop Hasa crashed over. Argentinian full-back Prisciantelli converted, and also kicked a penalty following Quinn’s yellow card for a ruck infringement.

Snyman managed to score before Quinn’s return, spinning out of a tackle to go over from close range before a purposeful 33rd-minute attack ended with winger O’Brien bagging the bonus point for the hosts, with Butler tagging on both conversions.

The quick-thinking Craig Casey played in Frisch for the Reds’ fifth try, just before half-time, and Ennis youngster Butler converted with his easiest kick.

Daly had a try ruled out for a knock-on before Quinn picked off Luca Bigi’s long lineout throw to score on the hour mark, with Butler’s boot making it 40-10 and seemingly putting Zebre out of contention.

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However, the visitors refused to lie down and Scott Gregory’s turnover led to a try for Zebre replacement Dominguez, who was released by Simone Gesi.

Prisciantelli then won the race to his own kick through in the 68th minute, and with six minutes left, replacement De Leeuw barged over the line, following Gesi’s initial burst into the 22 as Zebre closed the gap to 40-29.

While frustrated to leak those tries, Munster did sign off with their seventh of the night when Daly sped over from the left wing thanks to Haley’s midfield spark.

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Flankly 10 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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