Munster end on a high by smashing Sale Sharks

Munster brought the curtains down on their disappointing European Champions Cup campaign by smashing Sale Sharks 65-13 at Thomond Park.

The floodgates opened after a tight first-half and the Munstermen scored eight tries to claim a five-point victory and cement their third place finish in Pool One.

It took less than two minutes for Munster to flex their European muscles as Simon Zebo crashed over. Ronan O’Mahony burst down his left flank before Ian Keatley spread the ball wide to Zebo, who wrestled his way past the covering defence to score.

Keatley converted two penalties to Nick McLeod’s one before the Sharks bit back. Left-wing Tom Arscott took the ball in midfield and dummied his way past Andrew Conway before he brushed aside Keatley on his way to score.

Andrew Conway was sent to the sin-bin moments later as Munster struggled to stem the Sale pressure, but they survived the onslaught to take a 13-10 lead in at the break.

Munster started the second-half just like the first with a magic moment from Keith Earls on his return from injury. The Ireland centre showed no signs of his four month lay-off when he latched onto Ivan Dineen’s pass to slice through the defence and run 60 metres to score.

And they turned the screw ten minutes later. The hosts decimated the Sale scrum from five metres out and Peter O’Mahoney crashed over, but referee Marius Mitrea had already blown for a penalty try.

Replacement centre Howard wrapped up the bonus-point after 65 minutes after latching onto Keatley’s inside pass. The Munstermen ended all hope of a Sale comeback with another two tries in as many minutes.

Zebo wriggled over at the corner after a Dineen break before turning provider to Conway, who sprinted over after Zebo broke downfield. O’Donnell secured the seventh before Duncan Williams and Conway went over to complete the 65-10 route.

Final Score Munster 65 (13) Sale Sharks 10 (10)

Scorers

Munster
Tries : Zebo 2, Earls, penalty try, Howard, Conway 2, O’Donnell, Williams
Pen : Keatley 2
Con : Keatley 4, Hanrahan
Drop :

Sale Sharks
Tries : Arscott
Pen : MacLeod
Con : MacLeod
Drop :

Match Officials
Referee
: Marius Mitrea (Italy),
Assistant ref: Patrick Pechambert (France),
Assistant ref: Jean-Luc Rebollai (France),
TMO: Eric Gonthier (France),
Citing Commissioner: Gwyn Bowden (Wales)

Munster Rugby: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Denis Hurley, Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Duncan Casey, BJ Botha, Dave Foley, Paul O’Connell, Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell, Peter O’Mahony (c)
Replacements: Eusebio Guinazu, John Ryan, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Robin Copeland, Ivan Dineen, JJ Hanrahan, Pat Howard

Sale Sharks: Luke McLean; Tom Brady, Andy Forsyth, Mark Jennings, Tom Arscott; Nick MacLeod, Will Cliff; Alberto de Marchi, Tommy Taylor, Ross Harrison, Andrei Ostrikov, Josh Beaumont, Mark Easter, David Seymour (c), Vili Fihaki
Replacements: Cameron Neild, James Flynn, Ciaran Parker, George Nott, Andrew Hughes, Nathan Fowles, Joe Ford, Michael Haley

With thanks to EPCRugby.

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