MUNSTER regained their three-point advantage at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 after recording a 36-8 bonus point win over Zebre at Musgrave Park before 7,330 paying customers.
Young Munster hooker Ger Slattery, who was introduced as a second half replacement for Shannon’s Duncan Casey, helped himself to a brace of tries, while flying winger Simon Zebo did his chances of earning some game time for Ireland before the conclusion of the Six Nations no harm at all by also dotting down twice. The ‘bonus point’ try came courtesy of flanker Tommy O’Donnell in the 70th minute.
The powerful CJ Stander turned in a Man of the Match display at number eight for Munster, while the game also saw Donnacha O’Callaghan take over as the province’s record appearance holder with 241 caps, having been introduced as an early replacement for the injured Dave O’Callaghan.
Munster second row Donnacha Ryan made a successful comeback from injury in the home side’s 28-point win, after getting a valuable 68 minutes of game time. Ryan will also be hoping he can force his way into Joe Schmidt’s match day squad for the remaining RBS Six Nations games.
Zebre’s first ever visit to Musgrave Park was marked by Tommaso D’Apice’s try in the 12th minute, but Munster built a 15-5 half-time lead despite a stop-start performance.
SCORERS - Munster: Ger Slattery, Simon Zebo two tries each, Tommy O’Donnell try, JJ Hanrahan one con, one pen, Ian Keatley three cons. Zebre - Tommasso D’Apice try, Guglielmo Palazzani pen.
MUNSTER - Felix Jones; Gerhard van den Heever, Johne Murphy, Ian Keatley, Simon Zebo; JJ Hanrahan, Cathal Sheridan; James Cronin, Duncan Casey, BJ Botha, Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland (capt), David O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.
Replacements used: Ger Slattery, David Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, Sean Dougall, Duncan Williams, Denis Hurley, Andrew Conway.
ZEBRE - Dion Berryman; David Odiete, Kameli Ratuvou, Roberto Quartaroli, Giovanbattista Venditti, Guglielmo Palazzani, Brendon Leonard; Andrea de Marchi, Tommasso D’Apice, Dario Chistolini, Michael van Vuuren, George Biagi, Filippo Cristiano, Andries van Schalkwyk (capt), Samuela Vunisa.
Replacements used: Lorenzo Giovanchelli, Luciano Leibson, David Ryan, Emiliano Caffini, Nicola Cattina, Alberto Chillon, Giulio Bisegni, Filippo Cazzola.
REFEREE - Dudley Phillips (Ireland)