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URC: Munster beat Zebre 21-5 for their first win of the season

Zebre’s Franco Smith Jr. takes on Munster’s Dave Kilcoyne
Munster (21) 21
Trying to: N Scannell 2, Knox Cons: Healy 3
Zebra (0) 5
Trying to: Mrs

Munster secured their first win of the Rugby United Championship season with a 21-5 win over Zebre at Musgrave Park.

The Irish province scored their three tries inside the first 25 minutes, with crosser Niall Scannell crossing the ball twice and knocking over Keinan Knox once.

Ben Healy scored all three tries as Munster won after back-to-back defeats away to Cardiff and the Dragons.

Substitute Lorenzo Pani touched down for Zebre early in the second half, but they remain without a win in three.

An opportunistic 44th-minute effort from Pani put the Italians in the lead, but a sloppy closeout on the half hour meant Munster missed out on a bonus point.

The visitors got some injury shots and Gabriele Venditti scored.

Munster’s dominant backcourt was instrumental in securing their first success since a disappointing encounter.

There were some doubts about the legitimacy of Scannell’s hook in the eighth minute, but a lengthy review by the TMO went in Munster’s favor and Healy added the conversion.

This was due to a well-run lineout and good initial work by Patrick Campbell while chasing the kick and Tadagh Beirne at the breakdown.

Zebras captain Enrico Lucchin and Pierre Bruno mounted the threat before prop Juan Pitinari got into position for a goal-scoring try.

Zebre’s formation also misfired, with Giampietro Ribaldi guilty of two crooked shots, and they were nine down before the break. Munster’s punishment was much cleaner.

Prop Knox was unstoppable from a few meters out to double the hosts’ lead to 14 points in the 17th minute.

Jack O’Donoghue had the next point ruled out for “clear separation” in that case, but Zebre lost Venditti in the box for cynical offside.

Scannell was sent off for a tackle in the 24th minute and the visitors had to change their back line due to injuries to centers Erich Cronje and Lukin.

Fabio Roselli’s men came alive early in the second half, Jacapo Trulla’s shot was saved by the Pani youngster’s effort with a rebound that beat Healy.

However, the final 40 minutes were rife with errors as even Irish duo Conor Murray and Joey Carbery, who were both brought off the bench, could not get Munster to fire again.

Munster’s jumbled schedule summed up what turned out to be a spectacle, the biggest cheer coming when 18-year-old back-rower Ruadhan Quinn became Munster’s youngest player in the professional era.

Munster: Hailey; Phillips, Fekitoa, Goggin, Campbell, Healy, Casey, Kilcoyne, N Scannell, Knox, F Wycherley, Beirne, O’Donoghue, O’Mahony, O’Sullivan.

Replacements: Buckley, Loughman, Archer, Edogbo, Quinn, Murray, Carbery, R. Scannell.

zebras: Krill, Bruno, Cronje, Luchin, Trula, Eden, Fusca, Pitinari, Ribaldi, Neculai, G. Venditti, Krumau, Ruggeri, Pelser, Fox-Matamois.

Replacements: Bigi, Rizzoli, Nocera, Furna, Bianchi, Casilio, Smith, Pani.

Judge: AJ Jacobs (South Africa).