The Pro14 contained Munster's sole prospect of silverware coming into today's Pro14 quarter-final. On a day when the province's electric full-back bid farewell, it was Simon Zebo who stole the show. Alongside his long-term teammate and friend Keith Earls, Zebo overcame the lethargy that has inflicted Munster in recent weeks to create a sensational score that ultimately proved the difference.
In the aftermath, Conor Murray's immediate reaction was that the game was 'scrappy' and that was extremely apt. The match became a game of chess but Munster will care little with another cup to go for and Leinster awaiting in the semi-final. The final score was a tight Munster victory 20-16.
Simon Zebo - 8
As goodbyes go, it was a fitting way to do it. Zebo created something out of what seemed to be nothing, a reluctance to accept the safety of the turf and willingness to be creative that has defined his career, both positively and negatively. Could well have had a try of his own if not for good covering by Fife.
Andrew Conway - 6
Took a big knock in the first half while chasing an up and under and removed for an HIA. Replaced by Darren Sweetnam at halftime.
Sammy Arnold - 7
Arnold has an extraordinary ability to make a low tackle while extending his trailing arm to eliminate the offload opportunity, a crucial aspect with players like van der Merwe and Kinghorn in the opposition. Another strong performance after his deserved Young Player of the Year award.
Rory Scannell - 6
Constantly willing to try things, not always with success but deserves props for ingenuity. Credit must go to Felix Jones for the terrific improvement in Scannell's defense in the face of big losses in the centre.
Keith Earls - 8
Outstanding under the high ball in the face of early onslaughts. A real livewire going forward. Munster's chances of claiming silverware this year are significantly higher when he is on the field.
JJ Hanrahan - 7
A pin perfect kick into the corner which set the tempo early on and led to Munster's first try. Slotted the resulting conversion too. A welcomed assured display from the Kerryman. Pulled his next penalty wide after half an hour but landed the next three.
Conor Murray - 7
Secure as always. Slightly off with some box-kicks in the first half but more than made up for it with his overall contribution in both defense and attack.
James Cronin - 6
A 100% record for Munster in the scrum today despite being forced into replacing one prop after a quarter of the game.
Rhys Marshall - 8
A monumental contribution in the loose. The second most metres made after weekly number one CJ Stander, line-out was excellent and took his try well. Staking a big claim to be Munster's starting number two.
Stephen Archer - N/A
Replaced after 16 minutes by Ciaran Parker.
Jean Kleyn - 7
Admirable work-rate in defense. Never accepts the tackle as the end of the contribution as the South African repeatedly bounces back up to counter ruck. The ultimate team player, reinforces carries and follows up with superb first up clear-outs.
Billy Holland - 6
A quiet afternoon for the Cork Con man.
Peter O’Mahony (Capt.) - 7
Handled Nigel Owens very well and a typically excellent tackle count of 12 made with none missed. Becoming a real asset in the line-out both with his jumping ability but also decision-making when steering the maul.
Jack O’Donoghue - 7
13 tackles made, zero missed. Showed phenomenal pace and tested the elements of the offside line to secure a big intercept in the second half which Munster failed to capitalise on. Another player who has deputised expertly in the face of wholesale injuries to the back-row.
CJ Stander - 7
The pick off the back of the scrum and charge down the out-half channel was a glorious crash-bang run prior to Earls's try. A remarkable statistic, outside of Earls and Zebo the most metres made was Stander, despite the fact he is regularly the first up carrier. Munster may not have clicked in the way they would like to today but there big players ability to step up ensures they'll more often than not they'll overcome Pro14 opposition.
As the final whistle rang out, cries of 'Zebo, Zebo' rang out around the ground. Today was his day and it showed. For Munster the same concerns raised after the Racing game remain, it wasn't easy but they live to fight another day. Leinster, in Dublin, awaits.
Gerbrandt Grobler, Kilcoyne, Copeland were all on after an hour. Injury saw Parker and Sweetnam introduced in the first half. Replacement front row continued to build on a strong showing in the scrum.