An understrength Edinburgh conceded six first-half tries and fell to their biggest defeat of the season a week out from the first of their back-to-back Champions Cup clashes with Newcastle Falcons.
Keith Earls scored a hat-trick in the space of eight minutes before the interval, while Duhan van der Merwe’s tries in each half was all Richard Cockerill’s woefully outclassed side could manage.
While Munster welcomed back seven of their Irish internationals from their successful November series, there was no such comfort for the Edinburgh side and the gulf in class was evident from the off.
There was bright play from Juan Pablo Socino and van der Merwe in particular, but other than the excellent duo there were few standouts.
Considering Edinburgh started this game without 18 players due to injury and rest following the international window, there was little expectation of a first away win of the season for Cockerill’s side.
The head coach made nine changes from last week’s defeat to Dragons and, on his first start for the side, Lewis Wynne made a big impact straight away, with a brilliant poach at the breakdown after just 50 seconds.
But the sweet notes were scarce for Edinburgh in that early action. The concession of a lineout penalty handed Munster an easy exit and a few minutes later the home side struck. There were powerful carries from three internationals –Arno Botha, Niall Scannell and Billy Holland – which brought Munster close to the try-line, and in his first start of the season another Ireland man, Chris Farrell barged over for the first try in the fifth minute.
After the bad start Edinburgh appeared to have settled into the game as they nailed a few bright phases of play, but for the second time in ten minutes Munster scored off a lineout. Again Munster dummied to set a maul, but played wide off Chris Cloete while JJ Hanrahan’s inside pass sent Andrew Conway through a hole near the back of the lineout and he ran clear to score.
To be fair Edinburgh were down a player as they defended that try and Nathan Fowles was replaced by Sean Kennedy moments later for a head injury assessment, but there was no excuse for the defending of the third Munster try that arrived four minutes later. Farrell managed to suck in three defenders with a clever pass out the back, and Conway easily finished in the corner for a 19-0 lead.
Three tries down it looked worrying for Edinburgh, but they hauled themselves back into the game by the 21st minute. Juan Pablo Socino broke open the Munster cover with a strong carry up the middle, while debutant George Taylor freed Duhan van der Merwe and he barged past Mike Haley and Cloete with a powerful fend to finish brilliantly. Jaco van der Walt converted from wide on the left to put 12 points between the sides.
But that was just a brief interlude to Munster’s dominance and their bonus point arrived after just half an hour. This time the Munster pack elected to maul with Botha in charge at the back, but when it was stopped just short of the line, Conor Murray fired a rapid pass to Keith Earls who scored in the left corner.
Earls only had to wait four minutes to score his second try and it was Munster’s best effort so far. Farrell showed great footwork and power to break through the defence, he passed to Haley and with the tackles closing in he looped a ball to the Ireland winger for another easy finish.
Munster were already 29-7 ahead and the only downside was Hanrahan’s four missed conversions. But Earls completed his wonderful eight-minute hat-trick two minutes before the interval when he scored after some more heroics from Conway and Haley.
Hanrahan missed again but Munster were 34-7 ahead at half-time. The Scottish side managed to stem the tide in the early stages of the second-half – with Socino impressive in the centre there was plenty of endeavour shown by Cockerill’s side, but too often they failed to make the most of their attacks and couldn’t retain the ball at the crucial moment.
One such example came after some brilliant work from Luke Hamilton, who forced the turnover when his side refused to engage the Munster maul. In the Munster 22, Edinburgh rolled through the phases only for a knock-on to erase their good work.
There was a debut for Fijian back row Senitiki Nayalo after an hour as Cockerill looked to his bench for inspiration, but they continued to hold Munster scoreless in the second period.
But the seventh Munster try did arrive 16 minutes from time, and it was scored by replacement out-half Tyler Bleyendaal who scored down the blind side of a dominant Munster scrum to make it 39-7 for the home side.
There was time for one more Edinburgh highlight when Socino and Jason Baggott combined to send van der Merwe in for his side’a try 11 minutes from time, but that was as good as it got for the Scottish outfit.
Scorers – Munster: Tries: C Farrell (5, 77), A Conway (15, 19), K Earls (30, 34, 38), T Bleyendaal (64)
Cons: Hanrahan (2)
Edinburgh: Tries: D van der Merwe (21, 69)
Cons: J van der Walt, J Baggott
Scoring sequence: 5-0, 10-0, 12-0, 17-0, 19-0, 19-5, 19-7, 24-7, 29-7, 34-7 (half-time), 39-7, 39-12, 39-14, 44-14.
Munster: M Haley (T Bleyendaal h-t); A Conway (D Williams 64), C Farrell, R Scannell (S Arnold 59), K Earls; JJ Hanrahan, C Murray; D Kilcoyne (J Loughman 65), N Scannell (K O’Byrne 61), J Ryan (C Parker 66); T Beirne, B Holland (F Wycherley 59); P O’Mahony (G Coombes 59), C Cloete, A Botha.
Edinburgh: D Fife; T Brown, G Taylor, J P Socino, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt (J Baggott 60), N Fowles (S Kennedy 16 HIA); R Sutherland (D Marfo 60), D Cherry (R Ford 60), M McCallum (P Ceccarelli 46); J Hodgson (C Atkinson 66), C Hunter-Hill; A Miller, L Wynne (S Nayalo 59), L Hamilton.
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU).
Source : HeraldScotland