Munster ended the 2020/21 season with a facile 54-11 win over Zebre in Parma this evening. Four tries from Gavin Coombes , two from Craig Casey and one each from Niall Scannell and Liam Coombes saw the men in red end their Rainbow Cup campaign in the blistering heat of the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
The first of Gavin Coombes' four tries came in the ninth minute following an impressive Munster maul, which put the home side under pressure from five metres out. A quick tap from a penalty caught the Zebre side napping and Coombes struck from short range.
The second try, again from a line out platform, saw Munster get the ball into the hands of Andrew Conway early, before Matt Gallagher helped improve the side's momentum towards the line, with Casey on hand to dot down from five metres out. Picking and going from an unprotected ruck.
The third try, Gavin Coombes' second was a case of deja vu as the appalling Zebre side were once again caught napping. The Young Munster number eight, Munster's leading try scorer this season was able to run over the Zebre defence almost without having a hand laid on him to leave his side 21-6 in front.
As the clock went read before the half time whistle, Munster's dominance at set piece was on show once more as their scrum moved forward without much resistance. As the ball flew out of the scrum, Joey Carbery put in an excellent chip kick which Chris Farrell ran on to. The former Grenoble man was stopped just short of the line, but Craig Casey, running that up field support line, was there to another his second try of the half. Munster went into the sheds 28-6 to the good.
The second half began, just like the first. A Munster lineout maul making light work of the Zebre defence. From over 15 metres out the men in red ran over the line, with Niall Scannell coming up with the ball in his hands.
As if the night could not get any worse for the home side, on the hour mark, one of their only good scrums of the night saw them attempt to launch an attack down the right hand side. Only for a clearing kick to be intercepted brilliantly by Liam Coombes (Gavin's cousin) to score under the posts. Munster now found themselves in a 42-11 lead.
Munster were, at this stage, ringing the changes, as Jake Flannery, Thomas Ahern, Chris Cloete, Nick McCarthy and Billy Holland all came on to the field.
Gavin Coombes scored his third of the night, when a flat pass from Flannery was almost intercepted, only for Coombes to rush on to the bouncing ball and sprint 30 metres to score.
The final acts of the night were most definitely an emotional one. Coombes scored his fourth try of the night, putting his side 54-11 in front. However it was the conversion attempt which was one of the highlights of the evening.
Playing his final game of his career, Munster's Billy Holland was tasked with taking the last kick of the game. From the touchline. The Cork Con man snap hooked the ball to the left, but none the less, the 247 times capped star leaves with his head held high.
Munster: Matt Gallagher; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Liam Coombes; Joey Carbery, Craig Casey; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Peter O'Mahony (CAPT), Jack O'Donoghue, Gavin Coombes.
Replacements: Kevin O'Byrne, Liam O'Connor, Roman Salanoa, Thomas Ahern, Billy Holland, Nick McCarthy, Jake Flannery, Chris Cloete.
Zebre: Jacopo Trulla, Giovanni D’Onofrio, Federico Mori, Enrico Lucchin, Pierre Bruno, Carlo Canna, Marcello Violi, Andrea Lovotti, Luca Bigi, Matteo Nocera, David Sisi, Leonard Krumov, Iacopo Bianchi, Potu Junior Leavasa, Renato Giammarioli.
Replacements: Marco Manfredi, Daniele Rimpelli, Nicolò D’Amico, Samuele Ortis*, Giovanni Licata, Nicolò Casilio, Filippo Di Marco, Michelangelo Biondelli.
Referee: Andrea Piardi (FIR, 14th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Marius Mitrea, Clara Munarini (both FIR)
TMO: Matteo Lipperini (FIR)
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