Murray comes off bench to help Munster to victory
Ireland internationals Conor Murray and Chris Farrell made an impact off the bench as Munster secured a bonus-point win at Zebre yesterday. Murray and Farrell were introduced in the 51st minute after Renato Giammarioli brought Zebre back into the game.
Ronan O’Mahony scored on his return while Rory Scannell secured the bonus point. Fineen Wycherley and Kevin O’Byrne had given Munster a 17-0 lead at the interval. However Murray stood out and unlocked the ’s defence in the dying minutes where he looked sharp after more than five months on the sidelines.
Starting scrumhalf Neil Cronin put Arno Botha through the defence in the lead-up to Alex Wootton’s try which was ruled out for a knock-on. Wootton had crossed in the 14th minute and Munster only had to wait two more minutes before they would get rewarded for their pressure. O’Byrne threw into a lineout, Botha claimed and Munster rumbled towards the line. They were held up short but when the Italians stopped the Munster hooker for the second time, Wycherley scored under the posts. Bill Johnston, a replacement for JJ Hanrahan before kick-off, slotted the extras and when O’Byrne scored a try in the 30th minute.
Wycherley had fumbled a lineout previous to that but Zebre failed to clear, Jeremy Loughman plundered his way forward, and after he was taken down Cronin and Mike Haley combined to help O’Byrne score wide on the left. Johnston’s conversion was brilliant but his penalty from almost halfway just before half-time was even better. It gave Munster a 17-0 lead at half-time and Murray and Farrell came on to add an extra zip but Zebre almost piled over in the 62nd minute. They were held up and after a fight erupted Munster couldn’t get clear the ball so Giammarioli dived over to score.
Zebre trailed 17-7 but Munster forced a penalty and Scannell stepped up to score. Murray was influential again when O’Mahony scored his try in the 73rd minute when he forced a clearance.
With one minute left Murray put Scannell through for the bonus point try.