Munster up and running after victory over Zebre Parma
Munster’s superior maul delivered their opening win of the season as they overcame Zebre Parma 21-5 in a drab United Rugby Championship encounter at Musgrave Park.
Ben Healy converted tries from Niall Scannell (2) and Keynan Knox to give Graham Rowntree’s side a 21-0 half-time lead. Zebre suffered a couple of injury blows and had lock Gabriele Venditti sin-binned.
Replacement Lorenzo Pani’s opportunist 44th-minute effort got the Italians off the mark, but a sloppy closing half an hour saw Munster miss out on the bonus point.
There was some doubt about the grounding of hooker Scannell’s eighth-minute opener, but a lengthy TMO review went Munster’s way and Healy added the conversion.
The visitors’ lineout also misfired badly, with Giampietro Ribaldi guilty of two crooked throws and they had nine lost lineouts before the break. Munster’s execution was much cleaner.
Prop Knox was unstoppable from a few metres out, doubling the hosts’ lead to 14 points in the 17th minute.
Jack O’Donoghue had a subsequent score ruled out, for ‘clear separation’ on this occasion, but Zebre lost Venditti to the bin for a cynical offside.
Scannell crashed over from the resulting lineout drive in the 24th minute, with the visitors having to reshuffle their back-line due to injuries picked up by centres Erich Cronje and Lucchin.
Fabio Roselli’s men sparked into life early in the second half, Jacopo Trulla’s chip kick grounded by onrushing youngster Pani with the bounce having beaten Healy.
A muddled Munster lineout summed up a game that had disintegrated as a spectacle, the biggest cheer coming when 18-year-old back-rower Ruadhan Quinn came on to become Munster’s youngest player of the professional era.
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