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Munster secure a home berth

19th January 2014 14:40

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SKY_MOBILE Simon Zebo Munster Cornell du Preez Edinburgh

On the board: Simon Zebo

Munster overcame a defensively soft Edinburgh outfit by running in six tries to win 38-6 and secure a home Heineken Cup quarter-final.

Late tries have tended to be Munster's preferred method of ensuring success in the tournament over the years, but they had the bonus point wrapped up after 56 minutes this time, making the most of some flimsy redzone defence and horrendous ill-discipline from Edinburgh on numerous occasions.

The win hands Munster a certain home quarter-final against either Leinster or Toulouse depending on the outcome of Clermont's fixture later on Sunday.

Tries from James Coughlan, Johne Murphy, Conor Murray, Peter O'Mahony, Simon Zebo and Felix Jones comfortably did the job for Rob Penney's side.

Paul O'Connell was a juggernaut at Kingsholm in last weekend's win over Gloucester and he was influential at the start at Thomond Park, making a brilliant take at the restart to lead the way for the first try.

Damien Varley's straight line fixed the Edinburgh defence before the ball was flung over to the left, number eight James Coughlan coming back on the angle to scythe through the visitors' porous defence.

Tries mattered more to Munster even when only 5-3 up, hence their decisions to opt for the corner or the five-metre scrum when Edinburgh were next pinned back up against their try line.

Persistent scrum penalties right under the posts left referee Wayne Barnes thinking about the penalty try but it didn't come to that - a loose ball squirting out of the base scooped up by Coughlan, who released Johne Murphy to step his way round more soft defence for Munster's second try.

Varley's calamitous pass turned a promising Munster attack into an Edinburgh penalty back on halfway for Laidlaw to add his second three-pointer, as Keith Earls worryingly limped off for the hosts.

A spark spurred Edinburgh up to the Munster line following a scrum penalty, but their series of drives searching for a gap were ended when O'Connell and Zebo pounced to force a timely knock on.

Despite their two tries though Munster only lead by six points at half-time, with two tries still needed to secure that quarter-final spot.

Cornell du Preez's yellow card for charging the head of O'Connell on the stroke of half-time handed Munster a man advantage which they capitalised on after the break, Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray burrowing his way over after Tommy O'Donnell's fine break.

That left Munster with half an hour to secure the try bonus point, which O'Mahony delivered early by pumping his way through Edinburgh's defence for a captain's score - delivering the home quarter-final.

Zebo would add further gloss to the scoreline with Munster's fifth try in a more welcome sight for Ireland than that of Earls being carried off earlier on.

It became an exercise of muscle-flexing for Munster late on as Edinburgh's penalty count rocketed, giving off the air of a side whose number of problems are far greater than their positives.

Geoff Cross' was inevitably sent to the bin and with Edinburgh's pack depleted Munster showed little mercy, kicking to the corner for the fourth consecutive time and rolling a maul up to the line to free the space in the opposite corner for Jones to score the sixth and final try.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Tries: Coughlan, Murphy, Murray, O'Mahony, Zebo, Jones
Cons: Keatley 3

For Edinburgh:
Pens: Laidlaw 2
Yellow Card: du Preez

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Peter O'Mahony (c), 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Dave Foley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Damian Varley, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 James Cronin, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 Paddy Butler, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Simon Zebo

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Dave Denton, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Al Dickinson
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Oliver Atkins, 20 Tomas Leonardi, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Carl Bezuidenhout, 23 Joaquin Dominguez

Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng)
Assistant referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Roy Maybank (both Eng)
TMO: Sean Davey (Eng)

by Ben Coles
@bencoles_

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