Munster had another Aviva horror show as the Scarlets cruised to a 46-22 victory and claim the 2017 Guinness Pro12 title on Saturday evening.
It was Scarlets second title and the first since their 2003/2004 victory.
Defensive frailty is not something one would have associated with Munster this season by Scarlets repeatedly cut through gaping holes in the Munster defensive line.
A superb attacking display from the Welsh outfit saw then run in four first half tries and with a 29-10 lead heading in to the break, the game was effectively over as a contest.
Munster needed a good start to the second half but instead Scarlets added to their lead with a Patchell penalty further extending their commanding lead.
The majority the stadium were in deep shock as the pre-game favourites succumbed to a harrowing record defeat.
Defeat is one thing but the manner of the defeat coupled with the 2015 capitulation to Glasgow Warriors pose questions about Munster’s mentality.
Munster made a solid start when out-half Bleyendaal landed a sixth minute penalty after Scarlets were pinged at a scrum with Nigel Owens adding an extra ten metres for dissent.
Scarlets wasted no time in replying when a fine grubber kick from out half Patchell behind the Munster defence was picked up by Liam Williams to dot down for a fine try.
Patchell was unsuccessful with the conversion but minutes later added a penalty to extend the lead to 8-3.
A second try soon followed as Munster were turned over in possession. Scarlets made the most of their field position and some slick handling saw Steffan Evans cross for a fine try.
The winger was cleared to play during the week following his red card against Leinster last week.
Munster’s top ranked defence was a shambles and was again exposed in the 28th minute with scrum-half Gareth Davies getting his side’s third try.
Scarlets were in total control at the breakdown and attacked at every opportunity. Not only this but they also shut down Munster’s attack intelligently by not committing to defensive rucks and simply fanning across the pitch.
They gave Munster no gaps to expose and simply shut them down. Further salt was rubbed into the now gaping wound with Ex-Leinster Academy player Tadhg Beirne adding a fourth try on the half hour mark followed a Patchell conversion to make it 29-3.
Munster were shocked, Munster had no answers and Munster were beaten. They did offer some resistance as a Tyler Bleyendaal try and conversion cut the deficit to 29-10 heading into the break.
Munster needed to score first and fast after the interval but instead a Patchell penalty extended Scarlet’s lead.
Scarlets bossed the second half, snuffing out Munster attacks while at the same time attacking with purpose and deadly intent.
A fifth Scarlets try followed in the 70th minute when replacement DTH van der Merwe flew crossed again.
Munster added some respectability to the scoreboard with late tries form Conway and Earls but it was scant consolation for what was an abject display from Rassie Erasmus’ side.
Scarlets flanker James Davies had the last word with a sixth try for the deserving champions.
For Munster it’s a case of taking lessons from what was an emotionally draining season. They players and coaches deserve huge credit for the progress they have made in such a short space of time.
They will however be acutely aware that in the two biggest games of the season agains Saracens and Scarlets that the simply didn’t perform to their capability.
SCORERS: Munster: Tyler Bleyendaal try, pen, con, Andrew Conway try, Keith Earls try, Ian Keatley con. Scarlets: Liam Williams, try, two cons, Steffan Evan, Gareth Davies, Tadhg Beirne, DTH van der Merwe, James Davies try each. Rhys Patchell two pens, two cons.
MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Francis Saili, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander. Replacements: Jaco Taute for Rory Scannell (5-12 mins, HIA and 28), Stephen Archer for Ryan (46 mins), Jean Deysel for O’Donnell (both 45 mins), Jack O’Donoghue for Holland (53 mins), Rhys Marshall for Niall Scannell (55 mins), Ian Keatley for Zebo (62 mins), Brian Scott for Kilcoyne (67 mins), Duncan Williams for Murray (73 mins),
SCARLETS: Johnny Mcnicholl; Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Steff Evans; Rhys Patchell, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee, Lewis Rawlins, Tadhg Beirne, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, John Barclay (capt). Replacements: Werner Kruger for Lee (29 mins), Jonathan Evans for Davies, Wyn Jones for Rob Evans (both 51 mins), Hadleigh Parkes for Patchell (55 mins), DTH vane der Merwe for Steff Evans (58 mins), Will Boyde for John Barclay, David Bulbring for Rawlins (63 mins),
REFEREE: Nigel Owens (Wales)