RaboDirect Pro 12: Munster 35-12 Scarlets

Doug Howlett and Lee Williams
Munster try-scorer Doug Howlett is tackled by Lee Williams at Musgrave Park

Holders Munster moved back to the top of the Pro 12 as they comfortably beat the Scarlets at Musgrave Park.

A Dan Newton penalty gave the Scarlets an early lead but Doug Howlett's try helped Munster move 10-3 ahead.

Further Munster pressure yielded a penalty try on 31 minutes as the home side led 20-9 at the break.

Another Newtown penalty cut Munster's lead but the home side regained control with tries from replacements Duncan Williams and Tommy O'Donnell.

Johne Murphy had to show quick reactions to get back and dot down for a dropout after Rhodri Gomer-Davies had launched a kick chase in the opening seconds.

The Scarlets forced the early pace and an offside decision allowed Newton to kick them ahead.

However, Ian Keatley brought Munster level on 10 minutes and a turnover on halfway allowed Howlett to race in for the game's first try on 15 minutes after good work by Mick O'Driscoll and Peter Stringer.

Newton and Keatley swapped penalties to leave Munster 13-6 ahead before the penalty try came after Munster had forced a series of five-metre scrums.

Rob McCusker's scrum infringement convinced referee Andy McPherson to finally signal the try.

Keatley added the extras but Scarlets debutant Dale Ford responded with a thumping penalty from his own half before the break to cut Munster's lead to 20-9.

Newton's third successful penalty further chipped away at Munster's advantage and Ford missed a chance from long range to leave only five between the teams.

Another Keatley penalty extended Munster's lead after strong scrummage work by replacement props Wian du Preez and BJ Botha.

The game was over when Williams ran in a 65th-minute try after hooker Mike Sherry had peeled off the back of a maul and O'Donnell's late touchdown completed Munster's 12th successive win over the Scarlets.

Munster: Murphy, Howlett, Gleeson, Mafi, D Hurley, Keatley, Stringer, Horan, Sherry, Hayes, Foley, O'Driscoll, O'Mahony, Ronan, Coughlan.

Replacements: Deasy for Murphy (67), Zebo for Howlett (72), Williams for Stringer (60), du Preez for Horan (51), Fogarty for Sherry (76), Holland for Foley (46), O'Donnell for Ronan (65), Botha for Hayes (65).

Scarlets: Ford, L. Williams, Gomer-Davies, Maule, Fenby, Newton, Tipuna, I. Thomas, Myhill, R. Thomas, Reed, Day, McCusker, Turnbull, Morgan.

Replacements: L Rees for Fenby (72), G Davies for Tipuna (63), John for I Thomas (65), Phillips for Myhill (46), R. Jones for R. Thomas (65), Shingler for Day (55), J. Edwards for Turnbull (63).

Not Used: A. Thomas.

Referee: Andy Macpherson (SRU)