Munster maul poor Perpignan
Munster took over top spot in Pool 6 of the Heineken Cup with a convincing 36-8 victory over previous leaders Perpignan at Thomond Park.
The two-time champions of Europe broke the deadlock after just two minutes as they eased to a 22-0 advantage by the break, leaving them another half to try and cross again to clinch a crucial bonus point.
They had to wait until the 65th minute to get it, their pack pushing to such an extent that Perpignan were eventually forced to give away a penalty try.
James Coughlan added a fifth in the dying stages before Perpignan had the last word, Joffrey Michel bagging a consolation just before the final whistle.
Beset by injuries and denied the services of ex-Munster centre Lifiemi Mafi due to suspension, the Top 14 side always looked to be more concerned with damage limitation than claiming a rare away win. To that extent, they did themselves few favours when they were breached in the opening exchanges.
The ball was worked back against the grain from a line-out to create the space, and some crisp passing quickly led to Sean Dougall sliding over just to the left of the posts. Ian Keatley knocked over the easy conversion before also adding a penalty, making it 10-0 after as many minutes.
Such was Munster's dominance they twice turned down kickable penalties to keep ball in hand, their aggressive approach being rewarded when prop Dave Kilcoyne burrowed his way over from close range.
Perpignan did attempt to muster a response, only to shoot themselves in the foot when a turnover on the halfway line led to Keith Earls scoring.
The winger took an offload out of a ruck and then burst clear down the right touchline to record his eighth try in the competition. He also left Keatley a tough kick from the touchline, though the fly-half still managed to make it.
Having missed a penalty attempt on the stroke of half time, visiting captain James Hook finally got his team on the board four minutes into the second period.
They thought they had a try of their own too when Sofiane Guitoune rolled over, only for his effort to be ruled out as the TMO judged the final pass from Luke Charteris had been forward. The Wales lock would have scored himself had it not been for a fabulous tap-tackle by flanker Dougall.
Instead it was Munster who scored next, referee Greg Garner becoming so tired of Perpignan's infringements at the breakdown that he not only awarded a penalty try but also sent replacement prop Kisi Pulu to the sin-bin.
That seemed to be the end of the scoring until the final minute saw both teams grab tries; Munster's fifth of the afternoon was all about power, as their forwards grinded away to allow No 8 Coughlan to fall over the line.
Perpignan then perhaps gave a sign of what might come in the return fixture next weekend, some neat hands out wide on the left putting winger Michel in at the corner. They should be a much, much tougher proposition on home soil.