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Monday 10 December 2018

Earls bags quick-fire treble for rampant Munster

Munster 44 Edinburgh 14

Keith Earls ran in a hat-trick for Munster. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Keith Earls ran in a hat-trick for Munster. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Keith Earls scored a sensational eight-minute hat-trick as Munster produced a dazzling display to crush an under-strength Edinburgh side at Irish Independent Park last night.

But the Ireland star didn't get the man of the match award - that went to centre Chris Farrell, who got two tries of his own on an encouraging return after injury.

With left-wing Andrew Conway also notching a brace, to back up his treble for Ireland against the USA six days previously, and replacement out-half Tyler Bleyendaal also crossing, all eight tries were claimed by the backs as Munster ran riot, cruising to their fifth straight victory.

With scrum-half, Conor Murray pulling the strings on his first start of the season, the Reds stormed into a 19-0 lead.

First, Farrell crashed through three defenders after Billy Holland was halted just short of the line.

Then Conway picked a superb inside line from JJ Hanrahan's pass to add the second, and Munster had a third try on 18 minutes as Conway scorched over again.

Hanrahan converted both, and the match was all but over inside the first quarter.

Edinburgh did pull back seven points through Duhan van der Merwe's try and Jaco van der Walt's extras, but then Earls took over.

Edinburgh's Luke Hamilton is tackled by Conor Murray of Munster. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Edinburgh's Luke Hamilton is tackled by Conor Murray of Munster. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

His first score, which secured the bonus point, came on 29 minutes as he took a pass from the back of a maul to dive in at the flag after the Reds had kicked a penalty to the corner.

Four minutes later, he was in again, sent away by Mike Haley's pass following Farrell's superb offload.

And the treble was in the bag on 37 minutes as another sweeping move - starting in their own half, with Haley heavily involved - ended with Rory Scannell sending the winger over in the corner.

Hanrahan missed all three difficult conversions, but Munster led 34-7 and had the luxury of making some changes at the break, sending on Bleyendaal in place of Haley.

Munster were unable to maintain the intensity of their six-try first-half performance, and the game was scoreless for the third quarter.

Bleyendaal eventually got the seventh try, and after Van der Merwe got his second, Farrell completed the scoring.

It barely mattered that Munster missed six of their eight conversions.

Munster's Andrew Conway scores his side's second against Edinbugh. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Munster's Andrew Conway scores his side's second against Edinbugh. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

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