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Dublin: 10°C Thursday 28 January 2021
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Waterford man Thomas Ahern among the tries as Munster hammer Zebre

Johann van Graan’s men were far too good for the Italians at Thomond Park.

Munster 52

Zebre 3

A GLORIOUS FEW days for Waterford sport extended to Monday night rugby when late call-up Thomas Ahern crowned his first start for Munster with a try in the dying moments of a predictably one-sided win over Zebre at Thomond Park.

The former Dungarvan RFC and Waterpark clubman stepped in as a late replacement for Fineen Wycherley, who was ruled out with a groin injury, and the 6ft 8ins 20-year old crowned it when he scored Munster’s eighth try.

dan-goggin-celebrates-scoring-a-try-with-his-teammates Munster ran riot against Zebre at Thomond Park. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It was also a memorable night for Cork native Sean French who marked his debut with a try while back rower Jack Daly became the latest from Kerry to make his bow for the province.

However, it was his Kingdom colleague JJ Hanrahan who bossed this encounter against a seriously depleted Zebre side.

Michael Bradley’s Italian side were down 20 players through injuries and international duty and with five debutants and two permit players on board.

They defended stoutly in the opening quarter and only trailed 7-3 after 27 minutes when Gavin Coombes set up World Cup winner Damian de Allende up for his first try in nine games for Munster since his summer move.

The loss through injury of fullback Matt Gallagher was the only blip in the opening half, but it paved the way for French to come on for his debut as Munster went in leading 28-3 at the break with the bonus point in the bag.

Hanrahan, who put Dan Goggin through for the opening try with a chip after eight minutes, added his second conversion before Munster’s superior pack were awarded a penalty try.

The bonus point was secured when Hanrahan and Goggin combined to send Darren Sweetnam through for his 20th Munster try just before the break.

thomas-ahern-scores-a-try Ahern crosses for Munster late on. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Hanrahan continued to dictate the game with a superb display which he crowned when he was involved three times inside the 22 to score their fifth try four minutes after the restart and push the lead out to 35-7.

De Allende was denied a second try when TMO Joy Neville, who had earlier spotted Gallagher knocking on before touching down in the move where he was injured, drew referee Ben Whitehouse’s attention to an obstruction by Jack O’Donoghue.

Hanrahan was again the provider for Munster’s sixth try, neatly setting up French to score in the left corner and they completed the rout when Craig Casey scored their seventh shortly after coming on and then Ahern threw a fist pump before going over in the corner to ensure Waterford celebrations can continue into the week.

Munster scorers:

Tries, Goggin, de Allende, Sweetnam, Hanrahan, French, Casey, Ahern, pen try.

Cons: Hanrahan (5/7).

Zebre scorer:

Pen: Pescetto (1/1).

MUNSTER: Matt Gallagher (Sean French 23); Calvin Nash, Dan Goggin, Damian de Allende (Ben Healy, 55), Darren Sweetnam; JJ Hanrahan, Nick McCarthy (Craig Casey, 75); Josh Wycherley (Liam O’Connor, 62), Rhys Marshall (Diarmuid Barron, 62), Stephen Archer (Keynan Knox, 57); Thomas Ahern, Billy Holland; Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete (Jack Daly, 57), Gavin Coombes (Tommy O’Donnell, 57).

ZEBRE: Junior Laloifi (Jamie Elliott, 60); Pierre Bruno (Alessandro Forcucci, 60), Giulio Bisegni, Eenrico Lucchin, Giovanni D’Onofrio; Paolo Pescetto, Alessandro Fusco (Simone Marinaro, 52); Riccardo Brugnara (Andrea Lovotti, 46), Marco Manfredi (Massimo Ceciliani, 41), Aalexandru Tarus (M Nocera, 41); Gabriele Venditti, Leonard Krumov; Mick Kearney, Alessandro Mordacci (Andrea Chianucci, 60), Lorenzo Masselli.

Sin bin: Lorenzo Masselli37-47, Gabriele Venditti 80.

Referee: B Whitehouse (Wales).

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About the author:

John Fallon

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