Zebo hat-trick too much for Zebre

Date published: September 19 2014

Simon Zebo scored a fine hat-trick as Munster cruised past Zebre 31-5 at Thomond Park in the Pro12.

Simon Zebo scored a fine hat-trick as Munster cruised past Zebre 31-5 at Thomond Park in the Pro12.

A convincing win was exactly what Anthony Foley's men needed, as they prepare for the visit of the Ospreys next week.

Paul O'Connell made his first start of the season in a much-changed Munster side, and will have been pleased with his side's professionalism in seeing off a spirited Zebre side.

One downside was the withdrawal of Johnny Holland, who hobbled off early on with an injury Munster could do without.

After a drab start, the game needed a moment of magic to spark into life.

Andrew Smith put in the hard work, showing a superb turn of pace to break away from the Italian side's defence, before giving Zebo a try on a plate in the corner.

Munster struggled to assert their dominance on the game, but did score another superb try just before the break.

Ronan O'Mahony took in a Conor Murray box kick superbly, and from the resulting ruck Zebo was given another run in to push the hosts out into a comfortable lead.

Zebo had his third in the bag before the interval, running in under the posts after a JJ Hanrahan break.

The winger turned provider just after the break, supplying Smith, who secured the inevitable bonus point for the Munstermen and effectively ended the game as a contest.

Dave Kilcoyne got himself on the scoresheet through brute force more than anything else, charging over the line with his head down to give the home fans even more to cheer.

Zebre did manage a late consolation through Samuela Vunisa.

There will be harder games to come, but Munster will still take heart from a thoroughly convincing win.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Tries: Zebo 3, Smith, Kilcoyne
Conversions: Hanrahan 3

For Zebre:
Try: Vunisa

The teams:

Munster: 15 Felix Jones (c), 14 Ronan O'Mahony, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Denis Hurley, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Johnny Holland, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Paddy Butler, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Billy Holland, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O'Byrne, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 Sean Dougall, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Johne Murphy.

Zebre: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 David Odiete, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Kelly Haimona, 11 Giulio Toniolatti, 10 Edoardo Padovani, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Filippo Cristiano, 6 Mauro Bergamasco, 5 George Biagi, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (c), 3 Luciano Leibson 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Valerio Bernabò, 21 Andries Ferreira, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Gonzalo Garcia, 23 Mirco Bergamasco.

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)