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Munster topple Cardiff. Talking points, highlights & tries.

Munster secured a bonus-point victory over the Cardiff Blues to keep their hopes of finishing first in Conference A alive

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Munster sealed another bonus-point defeating the Cardiff Blues 45-21 at the Irish Independent Park on Friday night.

The win means that the reds remain in second in Conference A three points behind Glasgow and will head into the final games with every chance of finishing top spot.

Both teams started well with the visitors breaking the deadlock after seven minutes as Rey Lee-Lo ran a perfect line before Tomos Williams finished off the move. Gareth Anscombe converted to make it 7-0.

Munster responded well and five minutes later were rewarded as Tyler Bleyendaal slotted home a penalty to leave it at 7-3.

Chris Farrell put the home side ahead on 18 minutes when he touched down following a brilliant turnover from man of the match Peter O’Mahony. The conversion made it 10-7.

10 minutes on and Munster were in again as Conor Murray set-up Jean Kleyn for the five-pointer. Bleyendaal again converted and they had a 10-point lead.

There was another score in before half-time with Blues’ Aled Summerhill scoring in the corner after some great work from Anscombe and Matthew Morgan. Anscombe kicked the extras once more and it was 17-14 at half-time.

Five minutes into the second-half and Cardiff were over for their third try through Lee-Lo after a quick-tap penalty from Williams. Another successful kick from Anscombe made it 21-17 to the away side.

That lead didn’t last too long as substitute CJ Stander ran in the home sides third try of the night and Bleyendaal converted to put three points between the teams once again.

Shortly after the hour mark Murray claimed Munster’s bonus-point, touching down after Dave Kilcoyne was short with his attempt. Bleyendaal was perfect from the tee again to stretch the lead out to 31-21.

Some fine work from Farrell and Mike Haley allowed Andrew Conway to score their fifth try and a fifth conversion from Bleyendaal meant it was 38-21 with 15 minutes left.

Sammy Arnold touched down late on to round off a strong showing from the home side. JJ Hanrahan added the two extra points as it ended 45-21.

Speaking after the game, Munster hooker Kevin O’Byrne emphasised how vital the win was to his side.

“Can’t underestimate how important that win was tonight and especially to get the scores as well,” he said.

The win, their 10th in 11 games, keeps Munster in the hunt for a home semi-final, while Cardiff remain in a scrap for a play-off spot.

Match Highlights:

Pro14

Munster confirm Zebo signing

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce that Simon Zebo has signed a one-year contract to return to play with the province for the 2021/22 season.

This co-funded contract will see Munster’s all-time record try-scorer return from Racing 92 and line out for his home club where he made 144 appearances and scored 60 tries between 2010 and 2018.

In his third season with the Top 14 side, the 31-year-old has played 55 times and scored 21 tries to date.

Head Coach Johann van Graan said, “The opportunity to bring Simon back to Munster came about in early April following a final review of our squad’s budgetary position for season-end and with assistance from the IRFU to support what we believe is a really good deal for Munster and Irish Rugby.

“Simon’s desire to return to Ireland and play with his home club is illustrated by his willingness to sign at a level below his market value elsewhere. This has made bringing the province’s all-time leading try-scorer back home, possible.”

Simon Zebo said, “I am thrilled and honoured to be coming back home to play for Munster. My family and I have been so lucky to have enjoyed three incredible years with Racing 92 in Paris and I cannot thank the team there enough, I really have made friends for life and take with me some brilliant memories.

“However, as everyone knows, Munster holds a very special place in my heart and I’ve always said that I wanted to play for them and potentially Ireland again, so when this opportunity arose the lure of being close to home, family and friends and Munster fans, it outweighed all other options. I cannot wait to get back to the HPC with the team and hopefully a packed Thomond Park.”

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Pro14

Ulster Rugby agree to release Coetzee early

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Marcell Coetzee has played his last game for Ulster Rugby.

With back-row, Marcell Coetzee, currently side-lined with a hamstring injury, Ulster Rugby has agreed terms which will see the player released from the club at the end of this month, ahead of his planned departure at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season.

Given the need for several weeks of rehabilitation following the injury sustained by Coetzee in last month’s Guinness PRO14 fixture against Leinster, Ulster Rugby and the player have reached a mutual agreement to part ways on Friday 30 April.

Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment, Bryn Cunningham, said: “We have come to an agreement that will allow Marcell the time and space required to continue his rehab.

“I’d like to thank Marcell for his contribution to the province over the past five years and we wish him and wife, Chanelle the very best for their upcoming return home to South Africa.”

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Pro14

Lowry retained at 10 for Ulster v Zebre

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster coaching team has named the match-day squad to host Zebre in tomorrow night’s final Guinness PRO14 regular season game (Kingspan Stadium, 8.15pm).

21-year-old, Cormac Izuchukwu will make his first start for the Ulster men as he is named in the second row alongside Kieran Treadwell. Marty Moore comes back into the starting front row at tighthead, with Eric O’Sullivan and John Andrew retaining their starting berths at loosehead and hooker. Jordi Murphy will captain the side at openside flanker, with Sean Reidy and David McCann being retained at blindside and Number Eight.

A youthful back line sees Ethan McIlroy coming into the  back three at full-back, with Rob Lyttle on the left wing and Robert Baloucoune returning on the right. Stewart Moore and James Hume will make up the midfield pairing, while John Cooney and Michael Lowry are named at half-back.

Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor and Matty Rea are the forward reinforcements, with David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham providing the back line options on the bench.

Ulster team to play Zebre Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 16, Friday 19 March at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 8.15pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):

(15-9) Ethan McIlroy, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Michael Lowry, John Cooney;

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Marty Moore, Cormac Izuchukwu, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordy Murphy (Capt.), David McCann.

Replacements: Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Matty Rea, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.

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