Calvin Nash bags first Munster try as Johann van Graan era begins with bonus point Zebre win

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent


Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent


Calvin Nash bags first Munster try as Johann van Graan era begins with bonus point Zebre win

Calvin Nash, left, is congratulated by team mate Jack Stafford after scoring his first Munster senior try in their Pro14 win over Zebre in Italy on Sunday

LIMERICK’S Calvin Nash celebrated scoring his first senior try for Munster as the province scored a vital 36-19 bonus point win over Zebre in the Guinness PRO14 in Parma on Sunday.

Nash, who plays his club rugby with Young Munster, was sprung from the bench in the second half, and dotted down in the final play of the game to bring Munster’s try tally to five.

Munster will be concerned over an injury picked up by full-back Simon Zebo in the second half which forced him to be replaced. The province’s crucial back-to-back Champions Cup fixtures with Leicester Tigers are now less than two weeks’ away.

Rory Scannell and James Hart  both crossed in the first half for Munster who appeared to be in for a comfortable afternoon when leading 17-0. It was scrum-half Hart’s first try for the province on his first start.

But after both Robin Copeland and Sam Arnold were sent to the sin bin, Zebre – who beat Ulster in round five – came roaring back as Giulio Bisegni and skipper Jacopo Sarto both crossed for tries for the Italian side.

However, after the break Munster regained dominance and when restored to their full complement of 15 players, put the game to bed when winger Alex Wootton sped clear for two tries. The brace brought his try tally for the season to seven.

That secured the bonus point for van Graan – who only arrived in Limerick this week to take over from Rassie Erasmus meaning coaches Felix Jones and Jerry Flannery and performance analyst George Murray took charge of most of the preparations for the Zebre fixture.

Simon Zebo laid on the second for Wootton with a fantastic break and pass that hit his winger in stride but the Ireland star then went off with what looked like a shoulder injury.

Munster Rugby Academy scrum-half Jack Stafford, who plays his club rugby with Shannon, came off the bench to make his Munster senior debut late on.

South African flanker Chris Cloete was awarded Man of the Match in Parma on only his second start for Munster.

ZEBRE: Ciaran Gaffney; Pierre Bruno, Giulio Bisegni, Faialaga Afamasaga, Gio D’Onofrio; Maicol Azzolini, Guglielmo Palazzani; Cruze Ah-Nau, Luhandre Luus, Eduardo Bello; James Tucker, Leonard Krumov; Jacopo Sarto, Johan Meyer, Derick Minnie.

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Darren Sweetnam, Sam Arnold, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton; JJ Hanrahan, James Hart; Liam O’Connor, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer;; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete, Robin Copeland. Replacements: Brian Scott for Archer (21-27), Kevin O’Byrne for Marshall, Darren O’Shea for Holland (both 62 mins), Brian Scott for O’Connor, Calvin Nash for Wootton (both 66 mins), Sean O’Connor for Cloete (73 mins), Jack Stafford for Hart (75 mins), Bill Johnston for Zebo (76 mins),Ciaran Parker for Archer (78 mins).

REFEREE: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)