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Munster’s second-half salvo downs Edinburgh

Munster kept the pressure on Glasgow Warriors in the hunt for a home RaboDirect PRO12 playoff semi-final after running in seven tries against Edinburgh at Meggetland.

The hosts took the ascendancy early on through Carl Bezuidenhout and WP Nel, but Andrew Conway had responded before Denis Hurley danced over with half-time approaching.

And Munster turned the screw after the break, as Damien Varley, Duncan Williams, Tommy O’Donnell and two penalty tries saw them go some way to forgetting their European disappointment of last weekend.

JJ Hanrahan was also inch-perfect from the tee – collecting 16 points – as Munster sit just one point behind second-place Warriors with one regular season game remaining against Ulster next week.

Edinburgh poured on the early pressure and cracked into the Munster 22 after Cornell Du Preez took a quick tap penalty from an infringement at the scrum.

A slick exchange between Matt Scott and Jack Cuthbert then opened up space for the onrushing Bezuidenhout to power over for the score.

Bezuidenhout could not work a difficult conversion between the posts and in predictable fashion Munster came flying back at the hosts, who were pinged at the ruck to hand Hanrahan a penalty.

The fly-half put the three points on the board – and Rob Penney’s troops barely needed another minute to score on the ground.

With CJ Stander and Conway on the overlap deep inside their own territory, Edinburgh suddenly found themselves undermanned out on the left.

And a desperate attempt from Cuthbert to bring Conway down, the Munster flyer zipped inside to dot down underneath the posts.

Hanrahan added the extras while Edinburgh were forced into an early replacement, as Sam Beard replaced the injured Tom Brown.

But the home side certainly had no intentions of buckling to playoff chasing Munster and reassumed control of the match midway through the first half.

A succession of carriers rumbled over the gain line after quick ruck ball from Greig Laidlaw, on his last-ever home appearance for Edinburgh.

Cuthbert was stopped millimetres short of the whitewash but WP Nel scrapped his way over to finish – and the try was upheld after consultation with the TMO.

Laidlaw knocked through the conversion but failed to hit the target with a penalty after Hanrahan had chipped in with another three points to hand Munster a slender lead.

And Munster landed a blow just before the half-time whistle when Stander reversed the ball to Denis Hurley, who concertinaed his way through the line to cap an excellent move.

Hanrahan again made no mistake with the conversion and the visitors remained on top after the restart, Simon Zebo testing the Edinburgh defence with a scything break.

After a spell of stout defending, the home side finally caved in as replacement Damien Varley crept over on the back of a rolling maul.

The visitors were still relentless, steaming into the opposition 22 after an Edinburgh knock-on and after a succession of dominant scrums, were rewarded with a penalty try.

Edinburgh did have a chance to hit back almost immediately but Nel knocked forward after Beard, Grant Gilchrist and Dimitri Basilaia sparked a surge to within five metres of the try-line.

But any hopes of a sensational comeback were put to bed when Duncan Williams crossed with 15 minutes to go after sharp offloading between the backs.

Laidlaw then made way for Grayson Hart to a standing ovation from the crowd, but there was more misery to endure.

Munster cranked up pressure in the scrum to earn their second penalty try of the evening – also resulting in a Gilchrist sin-bin – while sub O’Donnell rounded off a fine display in injury-time.

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