Pro12: Munster 31-5 Zebre

Simon Zebo bursts past Zebre's Giulio Toniolatti to score one of his tries
Simon Zebo is about to dive over for one of his three tries despite the efforts of Zebre's Giulio Toniolatti
Munster (17) 31
Tries: Zebo 3, Smith, Kilcoyne
Cons: Hanrahan 3
Zebre (0) 5
Try: Vunisa

Simon Zebo scored a hat-trick of first-half tries as Munster earned a bonus-point Pro12 victory over Italian strugglers Zebre at Thomond Park.

Australian Andrew Smith and David Kilcoyne notched Munster's other tries in the second half.

Zebo scored his first touchdown on 13 minutes and his other tries came in a six-minute period before the break.

Leading 17-0 at the break, the two converted tries increased Munster's lead before Samuel Vunisa's reply.

The result gave new Munster head coach Anthony Foley his first home win since taking over from Rob Penney.

After a dull opening to the contest, Munster's fly-half Johnny Holland's skip pass created the space for new centre Smith to put Zebo over in the corner in the 13th minute.

Holland, making his first senior start for the province, soon had to be replaced by JJ Hanrahan because of injury but the home side doubled their lead on 30 minutes as Ronan O'Mahony's break set another score for Zebo.

A Hanrahan break from his own half then set up Zebo to complete his hat-trick on 36 minutes as he touched down under the posts, with the replacement fly-half adding the conversion.

Ireland international Zebo turned provider two minutes into the second half when he set up former Brumbies star Smith for the bonus-point score.

Munster, boosted by the return of international stars Paul O'Connell and Conor Murray to their starting line-up, crossed for their fifth try in the 63rd minute through replacement prop Kilcoyne.

Zebre did manage a consolation try in the closing minute when number eight Vunisa pounced on a cross-field kick to score.

Friday's win should boost Munster's confidence for the greater tests coming up against Ospreys and Leinster.

Munster: Jones, R O'Mahony, Smith, D. Hurley, Zebo, J Holland, Murray, Cronin, Casey, Botha, B Holland, O'Connell, Butler, O'Donnell, Copeland.

Replacements: J Murphy for D. Hurley 67 mins, Hanrahan for J Holland 23, Williams for Murray 66, Kilcoyne for Cronin 57, O'Byrne for Casey 50, J Ryan for Botha 57, D O'Callaghan for O'Donnell 71.

Not Used: Dougall.

Zebre: Daniller, Odiete, Bisegni, Haimona, Toniolatti, Padovani, Palazzani, Lovotti, De Marchi, Leibson, Geldenhuys, Biagi, M Bergamasco, Cristiano, Vunisa.

Replacements: M Bergamasco for Bisegni 49, Garcia for Padovani 60, Chillon for Palazzani 49, Manici for Lovotti 76, Chistolini for Leibson 60.

Not Used: Fabiani, Bernabo, Ferreira.

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)

Top Stories