Damien de Allende, Sean French and Thomas Ahern scored their first Munster tries in a 52-3 Guinness PRO14 pummelling of Zebre at Thomond Park. In addition to a penalty try, Dan Goggin, de Allende and Darren Sweetnam all swept over for converted scores as Munster pocketed their bonus point to lead 28-3 at the break.

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They added four more tries by the finish, as JJ Hanrahan and young guns French, Craig Casey and Ahern each made it over. Paolo Pescetto kicked a lone penalty for the depleted Italians. Quick lineout ball allowed player-of-the-match Hanrahan to dink a kick over the top, setting up centre Goggin to gather it on the bounce and touch down beside the posts.

Hanrahan’s conversion was cancelled out by a Pescetto penalty on the quarter hour mark, before another deft Hanrahan kick almost played in Matt Gallagher for Munster’s second try. It was a double setback for Gallagher with the TMO review going against him and an injury forcing him off.

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However, Munster’s strong scrum soon forced the issue and De Allende powered in underneath the posts from a smart offload by Gavin Coombes. Hanrahan quickly converted. With their forwards now under intense pressure, Zebre leaked a penalty try from a maul with number eight Lorenzo Masselli also seeing yellow.

Right on the stroke of half-time, Goggin ghosted in between two defenders on halfway and passed for Sweetnam to finish off to the left of the posts. Munster had been sloppy at times, but they went up a gear after the restart with the impressive Hanrahan, who finished with 15 points, using a slick three-man passing move to go over from close range.

Zebre used a series of penalties to threaten through their maul, yet Munster held them out and some lovely hands from Coombes and Hanrahan had academy youngster French diving over in the 56th minute. Hanrahan nailed the difficult conversion as fellow Kerry native Jack Daly was sent on for his debut. It is the first time two Kerry men have played a senior game for Munster in three years.

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With first-time starter Ahern joining Jack O’Donoghue in the Munster pack, it was also the first time two players from Waterford have started for Munster at this level. Zebre ended the game with lock Gabriele Venditti in the sin bin, and as Munster moved 16 points clear at the top of Conference B, Casey and towering young lock Ahern made it an eight-try rout late on.

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