The wave of positivity that has spread across the country since Friday night reached as far as Thomond Park on Sunday afternoon.

Surely stung by the chorus of disapproval about their style of rugby from a number of legendary former players of the club, the current crop responded and, led by the superb Ben Healy, produced their best showing of the season.

The 45-7 win over Wasps, who needed a bonus point of any description to progress to the Heineken Champions Cup round of 16, moved Munster above Bristol into third in Pool B and set up a date with Exeter who lost 37-26 at Montpellier in Sunday's late game to finish sixth in Pool A.

Maligned for an over reliance on their kicking game, Munster's play was snappier, more adventurous and they weren't afraid to run from all angles and offload at will in the opening half an hour.

The crowd, which had been increased in number to 13,047 by the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, were buoyed by what they saw.

It yielded three tries with Conor Murray, Simon Zebo and Jack O'Donoghue crossing the line, while Andrew Conway, Mike Haley and Rory Scannell were all feeding off Healy, who demonstrated that there is much more to his game than a monstrous right boot.

Jeremy Loughman grabbed the fourth after the break while Zebo, whose brace moved him ahead of the late Anthony Foley as the club's highest try-scorer in Europe, and Rory Scannell scored late on as Munster completed their pool stage with a 100% record.

Murray, whose passing was noticeably faster, got the opening try in the ninth minute and it came at the end of the 21-phase move in which Stephen Archer and Tadhg Beirne were involved multiple times.

The Ireland and Lions scrum-half dotted down when the ball spilled from Beirne's grasp on the line. It looked for all the world like a knock-on but replays showed that Dan Robson’s tackle had dislodged the ball and the score was awarded.

Out-half Charlie Atkinson was being put under pressure and moments later almost handed Healy a try when offloading on the line only to see the Munster man fumble the ball.

But another risky pass a few minutes later led to a turnover penalty, which Healy pushed over the bar.

Zebo, left out of Andy Farrell’s Ireland squad for the Six Nations and a late replacement today for Keith Earls (strain), got his fifth try of the season in the 18th minute.

The winger ran on to Healy’s perfect chip over the top to collect and power his way over the line with two Wasps on his back.

Lee Blackett’s side responded with a try of their own when Robson dummied at the base of a ruck on the line with Atkinson converting.

But that was quickly cancelled out when Gavin Coombes burst from the back of the scrum, clearing the way for man of the match O’Donoghue to pick and go over for their third of the day.

Coombes saw yellow soon after when Munster’s defence was on the back foot and conceded a number of penalties close to the line.

However, the hosts held out with Jean Kleyn winning a turnover on the line soon after an incident which saw Wasps flanker Thomas Young receive lengthy treatment on the field before being removed on the medical cart.

Johann van Graan’s side went off 24-7 up at the break and it was no more than their play deserved.

There were still down to 14 when Loughman, himself a late call-up in place of Dave Kilcoyne (illness) was alert to a loose ball after some sustained pressure on the line and Munster had their bonus point in 45th minute.

The game became disjointed soon after with Tom West and Mike Haley both going off for HIAs, Robson was yellow carded for going offside and Munster introduced Scott Buckley, Jack Crowley and Alex Kendellen.

The lively Conway though he had a fifth with 10 minutes left but the play was called back for a forward pass from Jack Crowley, while Chris Farrell knocked on the line.

But the two-time champions sent their fans home happy with Zebo finishing well in the corner before Scanell scored in the last play of the game with Crowley converting both.


Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Simon Zebo; Ben Healy, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O'Mahony (capt), Jack O'Donoghue, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Scott Buckley, Josh Wycherley, John Ryan, Fineen Wycherley, John Hodnett, Craig Casey, Jack Crowley, Alex Kendellen.

Wasps: Ali Crossdale; Marcus Watson, Paolo Odogwu, Ryan Mills, Josh Bassett; Charlie Atkinson, Dan Robson; Tom West, Tom Cruse, Elliott Millar-Mills; Elliott Stooke, James Gaskell; Brad Shields (capt), Thomas Young, Nizaam Carr.

Replacements: Gabriel Oghre, Rodrigo Martinez, Pieter Scholtz, Tim Cardall, Ben Morris, Will Porter, Rob Miller, Sam Spink.

Referee: Tual Trainini (France).