Munster hold off Zebre Parma fightback to claim win after first-half try blitz

Munster hold off Zebre Parma fightback to claim win after first-half try blitz

Munster moved back into play-off territory in the BKT United Rugby Championship after beating battling Zebre Parma 45-29 at Virgin Media Park on the back of five first-half tries.

Academy talent Ruadhan Quinn scored his first senior tries for Munster, whose attack was fluid but their defence was poor in allowing Zebre to bite back for a late bonus point.

Graham Rowntree's men turned around with a 33-10 advantage, striking early on through Quinn and Mike Haley before closing out the first half with converted efforts from RG Snyman, Sean O'Brien and Antoine Frisch.

Quinn returned from the sin bin to double his tally as Munster moved 40-10 clear, but Zebre closed to within 11 points thanks to final-quarter tries from Thomas Dominguez, Geronimo Prisciantelli and Dylan de Leeuw, adding to Muhamed Hasa's 18th-minute effort.

However, Shane Daly went over in the last minute to ensure Munster had the final say. Another positive on the night for the home side was fly-half Tony Butler's 10 points from the tee as he celebrated signing his first Munster senior contract.

The sharpness the Irish province showed in winning a friendly against Harlequins last week was evident when Snyman offloaded off the ground for Quinn to cross in the fifth minute.

Full-back Haley surged clear for the hosts' second try soon after, with Butler's crisp conversion making it 12-0.

Centre Damiano Mazza drew Zebre downfield before prop Hasa crashed over. Argentinian full-back Prisciantelli converted, and also kicked a penalty following Quinn's yellow card for a ruck infringement.

Snyman managed to score before Quinn's return, spinning out of a tackle to go over from close range before a purposeful 33rd-minute attack ended with winger O'Brien bagging the bonus point for the hosts, with Butler tagging on both conversions.

The quick-thinking Craig Casey played in Frisch for the Reds' fifth try, just before half-time, and Ennis youngster Butler converted with his easiest kick.

Daly had a try ruled out for a knock-on before Quinn picked off Luca Bigi's long lineout throw to score on the hour mark, with Butler's boot making it 40-10 and seemingly putting Zebre out of contention.

However, the visitors refused to lie down and Scott Gregory's turnover led to a try for Zebre replacement Dominguez, who was released by Simone Gesi.

Prisciantelli then won the race to his own kick through in the 68th minute, and with six minutes left, replacement De Leeuw barged over the line, following Gesi's initial burst into the 22 as Zebre closed the gap to 40-29.

While frustrated to leak those tries, Munster did sign off with their seventh of the night when Daly sped over from the left wing thanks to Haley's midfield spark.

BKT United Rugby Championship Player of the Match

Mike Haley is finding form again at just the right time, heading towards the business end of Munster's season. He took his try well, and had some nice touches elsewhere in both defence and attack, in an all-round tidy performance.

BKT United Rugby Championship Play of the Match

Released from Ireland camp to get game-time in the red jersey, Craig Casey was a typically lively presence around the pitch as Munster piled up a convincing lead.

The diminutive scrum-half tapped a penalty, 40 metres out, setting off a gliding run that kept the Zebre defence guessing before he pulled the trigger with a deliciously flat pass to send Antoine Frisch in behind the posts.

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