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Simon Zebo dots down twice as another South African side stumbles

Simon Zebo scores for Munster. (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Simon Zebo marked his Munster return with two tries in a 42-17 United Rugby Championship victory over Sharks at Thomond Park.


The Cork man, who moved back from Racing 92 in the summer, romped clear in the fifth minute, with further tries from Craig Casey and Gavin Coombes leaving it 20-3 at half-time.

Young number eight Coombes completed his brace in the 50th minute – sealing the bonus point – before Henry ‘Boeta’ Chamberlain lifted the Sharks with an intercepted effort.

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Although Yaw Penxe also sliced through for a classy score, Munster added a late gloss with replacement Chris Cloete and Zebo both crossing to add to a Ben Healy penalty.

The Sharks had nothing to show for their early dominance of possession – Curwin Bosch missed a penalty – and Munster stung them with an unconverted try against the run of play.

Zebo snapped up a loose offload and embarked on a 50-metre run-in down the left touchline, with Werner Kok unable to reel him in.

Munster applied pressure in the 25th minute, the visitors leaking a series of penalties, only for Thomas du Toit to rip the ball away, allowing the South Africans to clear the danger.


However, the former Munster prop saw yellow soon after, having infringed at a ruck, and Joey Carbery mopped up the three points for an 8-0 scoreline.

Bosch cancelled out that kick, rewarding a purposeful run from captain Phepsi Buthelezi, but Munster duly pushed on and took advantage of du Toit’s absence as Casey used a dummy to score from a close-in scrum.

A late bout of pressure from the Munster pack had Coombes burrowing over for Carbery to convert.


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The second half was a stop-start affair but Munster bagged their bonus point when Coombes struck from two metres out.

Carbery added his second conversion before his floated pass was picked off by Chamberlain for the South Africans’ opening try of the competition.

In response to a monster Healy penalty, Penxe’s pacy finish – from a terrific Jeremy Ward offload – showed the Sharks’ attacking spark.

Nonetheless, Munster slammed the door shut with Cloete driving low for the line in the 77th minute, followed by Zebo’s classy closer two minutes later.

While the weekend got off to a promising start for the Springbok-less South African sides, with the Lions recording a 38-26 away win over Zebre, the Sharks became the third team out of the republic to suffer a loss at the hands of their European opposition in the inaugural round of the URC.

Rainbow Cup champions Benetton secured a narrow 22-18 victory over the Stormers, Leinster thrashed the Bulls 31-3 and Munster’s 42-17 victory has capped off a less than savoury opening weekend for South Africa, whose national side fell 19-17 to the All Blacks in Australia.

– with AP


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