Bryan Keane/INPHO Sam Arnold, centre, scored a try in either half.
bonus territory
Five-star Munster brush off Zebre on a comfortable night at Thomond
Arnold, Scott, Copeland and Scannell earn Munster their bonus point.

Munster 33
Zebre 5

MUNSTER KEPT UP the pressure on Glasgow Warriors at the top of Pro14 Conference A with a bonus-point victory over Zebre at Thomond Park.

Brian Scott scored his first try for Munster while Sam Arnold also touched down to give Johann van Graan’s side a 12-0 half-time lead.

Guglielmo Palazzani hit back for the visitors but man of the match Robin Copeland and Rory Scannell were also among the tries, with Arnold adding his second in the second half.

South African lock Gerbrandt Grobler finally made his first appearance for the province as a second-half replacement.

The 26-year-old, who previously served a two-year ban from rugby for the use of a prohibited substance, came on in the 59th minute to a rapturous ovation from the home faithful.

Zebre were brilliant in the opening quarter and they forced five penalties from an ill-disciplined Munster rearguard. The hosts were pinned back five metres out from their own line, but they turned over a maul and that got them out of their 22.

Welsh referee Ben Whitehouse didn’t award Munster a penalty until the 25th minute when Zebre strayed offside, and one minute later Arnold scored his try.

JJ Hanrahan kicked to the corner and Conor Oliver began the move, which ended with his behind the back pass to the former Ulster centre, who dotted down in the corner.

Hanrahan’s next kick to the corner also ended in a try, Scott emerging from a rolling maul after Jean Kleyn fielded Niall Scannell’s throw-in to the line-out.

Hanrahan added the difficult conversion and Renato Giammarioli’s forward pass to Faialaga Afamasaga meant the Italians had a try disallowed and finished the half pointless.

Munster were 12-0 ahead at the interval but Palazzani scored in the 53rd minute when he sniped after a scrum.

However Munster retained their composure and eased to victory with tries from Copeland, Scannell and Arnold.

Munster scorers:

Tries: Sam Arnold [2], Brian Scott, Robin Copeland, Rory Scannell

Conversions: JJ Hanrahan [1 from 2], Ian Keatley [3 from 3]

Zebre scorers:

Tries: Guglielmo Palazzani

Conversions: Serafin Bordoli [0 from 1]

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Darren Sweetnam, Sam Arnold, Dan Goggin (Rory Scannell 52), Alex Wootton; JJ Hanrahan (Ian Keatley 52), Duncan Williams (John Poland 59); James Cronin (Jeremy Loughman 69), Niall Scannell (Kevin O’Byrne 59), Brian Scott (John Ryan 54); Jean Kleyn (Gerbrandt Grobler 59), Billy Holland (capt); Jack O’Donoghue (Dave O’Callaghan 59), Conor Oliver, Robin Copeland.

ZEBRE: Ciaran Gaffney; Gabriele di Giulio, Giulio Bisegni, Faialaga Afamasaga, Giovanbattista Venditti (Rory Parata 61); Serafin Bordoli (Maicol Azzolini 75), Guglielmo Palazzani (Riccardo Raffaele 57); Cruze Ah-Nau (Andrea de Marchi 61), Tommaso d’Apice (Luhandre Luus 57), Eduardo Bello (Roberto Tenga 57); David Sisi, George Biagi (capt) (Leonard Krumow 61); Renato Giammarioli, Johan Meyer, Jimmy Tuivati (Derick Minnie 57).

Referee: Ben Whitehouse [WAL].

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