Jake White has been talking all week about how proud a club Munster are and they certainly embarrassed his Bulls team on Saturday night, thumping them 31-17 in their United Rugby Championship match at Thomond Park.
It was a wonderful effort by the home side, led by a superb pack that stood up to be counted and never gave an inch to a side renowned for their physicality. Munster were also highly efficient when it came to controlling the game, their halfbacks, the livewire Craig Casey and man of the match, flyhalf Joey Carbery, both being outstanding.
A scrappy opening quarter saw the Bulls leading 3-0 through a Johan Goosen penalty, but once Munster began to execute better, the visitors had no answer and were dominated and well and truly beaten. The Irish side were clearly determined to improve their record after three losses in four games, and lifted by a passionate Thomond Park crowd.
And it all started up front as Munster bossed the gainline, using relentless pick-and-goes to batter the Bulls into submission. Eighthman Gavin Coombes scored twice from close range in the first half as the home side went into the break 17-3 up.
The Bulls needed to find something special in the second half, but they continued to kick poorly and so lost the territory battle, they were inaccurate at the rucks and Munster put their lineout under pressure.
Flyhalf Goosen did not come out for the second half as he had to have a head impact assessment, but his replacement Chris Smith made a horror start to hand Munster the initiative again straight away after the break.
A poor chip ahead by Smith was gathered by Carbery, who countered and then placed a clever kick infield, which Smith made a total hash of gathering, prop Jeremy Loughman getting a boot to the ball and then following up to score.
Munster were now well-clear, 24-3 up, and to make matters worse for the Bulls, prop Mornay Smith was yellow-carded in the 47th minute for a cheap shot into the back of an opponent.
The Bulls made too many mistakes in the first half to get any attacking play going, but they did score twice in the second half, either side of Munster’s fourth try, to make the scoreboard look a little less humiliating.
Replacement back David Kriel managed to make a big impact, first brilliantly claiming an up-and-under and then getting on the outside of his defender and passing inside for flank WJ Steenkamp to score. Kriel then picked up a ball that had bobbled loose after some big Bulls defence and dashed away for their second try.
The relentless carrying of the Munster forwards had meanwhile seen excellent flank Tadhg Beirne plunge over for their bonus point try.
The Bulls battered away in the closing stages to try and get a losing bonus point, but lacked the accuracy and sheer bloody mindedness to get past a Munster defence that put everything on the line.
Munster – Tries: Gavin Coombes (2), Jeremy Loughman, Tadhg Beirne. Conversions: Joey Carbery (4). Penalty: Carberry.
Bulls – Tries: WJ Steenkamp, David Kriel. Conversions: Chris Smith (2). Penalty: Johan Goosen.