Pro14: Munster 44-14 Edinburgh - Hosts gain on Conference A leaders Glasgow

Munster's Keith Earls
Keith Earls scored an eight-minute hat-trick for Munster
Pro14: Munster 44-14 Edinburgh
Munster: (34) 44
Tries: Farrell 2, Conway 2, Earls 3, Bleyendaal Cons: Hanrahan 2
Edinburgh: (7) 14
Tries: Van der Merwe 2 Cons: Van der Walt, Baggott

A six-try first-half blitz earned Munster a bonus-point victory against Edinburgh in a facile Pro14 contest.

Keith Earls got a hat-trick and Andrew Conway crossed twice following Chris Farrell's early score as the Irish side led 34-7 at half-time in Cork.

Edinburgh remain without an away win this season and Duhan van der Merwe's two tries provided scant consolation.

A low-key second-half featured a Tyler Bleyendaal score before Farrell added Munster's eighth try at the death.

The Irish province continued their pursuit of Conference A leaders Glasgow Warriors with a fifth successive Pro14 victory and will take that momentum into their European double-header against Castres while Edinburgh must hope a return to Murrayfield will give them a boost for their Pool 5 contest against Newcastle.

Andrew Conway in action for Munster
Munster's Andrew Conway evades a tackle on the way to scoring the first of his two tries

Blistering tempo

Bolstered by the return of their Irish internationals, Munster set a blistering tempo at Musgrave Park with three tries in an action-packed opening quarter.

A delayed pass by Conor Murray created a dog-leg in the Edinburgh defence in the fourth minute and the home side poured through before shifting to Farrell, who bulldozed over to score on his first start after a nine-month injury lay-off.

Conway, who scored a hat-trick in Ireland's autumn international win against the USA, continued his scoring streak when he burst onto JJ Hanrahan's inside pass and slalomed his way over the line.

The wing was on the scoreboard again barely four minutes later when Edinburgh lost a line-out and Munster swiftly attacked with Farrell's back-door pass to Hanrahan creating the space for Conway to touch down in the right corner.

A shell-shocked Edinburgh finally produced a counter-punch when a delayed Juan Pablo Socino pass created an overlap that was brilliantly exploited by Van der Merwe, who weaved through some half-hearted tackles to score.

Any hopes the visitors may have harboured of a fight-back were snuffed out by a stunning eight-minute hat-trick by Earls.

The Ireland wing slid over in the corner after Munster had mauled to within inches of the line and then finished off an electrifying attack by Farrell and Mike Haley before adding his third just before the interval when Haley's initial break sucked in the Edinburgh defence.

Edinburgh's Senitiki Nayalo tackle's Chris Farrell of Munster
Edinburgh debutant Senitiki Nayalo attempts to stop Chris Farrell from scoreing

Edinburgh's evening of frustration

Munster's intensity noticeably waned during the second half as they allowed Edinburgh to dominate possession.

The visitors produced some good passages of play but found it difficult to break the Munster defence with Rory Sutherland knocking on after 12 hard-fought phases an example of their frustrating evening.

Farrell was perhaps fortunate to avoid a sin-binning for a late hit before another burst by Earls revived the home side's attack and forced a five-metre scrum that allowed half-time substitute Bleyendaal to barge over.

Van der Merwe responded with his second try when Edinburgh - playing with a penalty advantage - quickly shifted the ball left and the wing showed good footwork to evade the covering defence and tiptoe down the touchline to score.

But it was fitting that Munster and man-of-the-match Farrell had the final say as the centre demonstrated his power by simply running through Socino and racing clear to score in front of the watching Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt.

'Plenty to work on'

Edinburgh captain Luke Hamilton on BBC Radio Scotland: "Second-half, we did a better job but the game was long gone by then. There is plenty to work on. When we get 81% second-half possession, we need to be coming away with points. We can't be coughing up easy ball in the 22 for them to exit.

"A few positives we can take. Some of the boys on their first game - George Taylor was outstanding - getting good game time which will hold the club in good stead. But tonight we were a long way off."

Munster: M Haley; A Conway, C Farrell, R Scannell, K Earls; JJ Hanrahan, C Murray; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, J Ryan, T Beirne, B Holland, P O'Mahony (capt), C Cloete, A Botha.

Replacements: K O'Byrne, J Loughman, C Parker, F Wycherley, G Coombes, D Williams, T Bleyendaal, S Arnold.

Edinburgh: D Fife; T Brown, G Taylor, JP Socino, D van der Merwe; J van der Walt, N Fowles; R Sutherland, D Cherry, M McCallum, J Hodgson, C Hunter-Hill, A Miller, L Wynne, L Hamilton (capt).

Replacements: R Ford, D Marfo, P Ceccarelli, C Atkinson, S Nayalo, S Kennedy, J Baggott, C Dean.

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