60 second report: Disappointment for Munster as Scarlets claim PRO12 title

60 second report: Disappointment for Munster as Scarlets claim PRO12 title
Simon Zebo of Munster reacts during the Guinness PRO12 Final between Munster and Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Munster 22 Scarlets 46

By Simon Lewis

Key moment: As Munster's defensive structure disintegrated yet again, Scarlets centre Scott Williams waltzed through a very thin blue line to set up scrum-half Gareth Davies for a third try of the opening period, effectively ending this Pro12 final as a contest after just 26 minutes as the Welsh region took a 22-3 lead with Rhys Patchell's conversion.

Talking point: Is there an Aviva Stadium curse on Munster? Three visits to the Dublin venue this season have brought defeat on each occasion. There was no disgrace in losing to Saracens in last month's Champions Cup semi-final but this Pro12 decider will have to join last October's league defeat by Leinster as an embarrassment, as described by Rassie Erasmus.

Key man: Scarlets flanker Aaron Shingler put in an excellent performance on both sides of the ball and in the set-piece to earn the man of the match award in a side that were superb to a man for the Welsh region.

Ref watch: Nigel Owens was his usual assured self with the whistle to keep this final ticking over and justify the appointment of a Welsh referee to oversee a team from his home country. When it comes to the big occasion there's no better official.

Injuries: Munster lost centre Rory Scannell just 28 minutes, just 16 minutes after the Corkman had returned to the field following a Head Injury Assessment.

Next up: Munster's extraordinary season has reached a deeply disappointing conclusion to give director of rugby Rassie Erasmus plenty of pause for thought as he builds for next season. His side did themselves and the late head coach Anthony Foley proud but this final proved a bridge too far.

Match report

Six-try Scarlets swept Munster's meek challenge aside to win a one-sided Guinness PRO12 final 46-22 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Wayne Pivac's men captured the Welsh region's second PRO12 title - and first since 2004 - as their devastatingly potent attack floored an Irish province for the second week running.

Impressive semi-final winners at Leinster, Scarlets sauntered into a 29-3 lead with four tries in the opening half an hour.

Ryan Elias of Scarlets is tackled by Rory Scannell of Munster during the Guinness PRO12 Final between Munster and Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile.
Ryan Elias of Scarlets is tackled by Rory Scannell of Munster during the Guinness PRO12 Final between Munster and Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile.

Coping much better with the greasy ball, Liam Williams, Steff Evans, Gareth Davies and Tadhg Beirne all touched down, with Rhys Patchell kicking nine points.

A converted 39th-minute score from Tyler Bleyendaal, adding to his early penalty, cut the deficit to 19 points for a rather shell-shocked Munster, who were wearing their changed navy strip.

Patchell responded with a 44th-minute penalty before a late flurry of scores, tries from Andrew Conway and Keith Earls being scant consolation for Munster as replacement DTH van der Merwe and James Davies took Scarlets' haul to six in the end.

With too many of their leading players off-form, Munster were unable to lift the trophy in Anthony Foley's memory as the hungrier and superior Scarlets condemned the province to their second PRO12 final defeat in three years.

The Scarlets backs, so effective with ball in hand against Leinster, were first to create an opening, fly-half Patchell teeing off a move that saw Johnny McNicholl threaten from halfway.

A scrum penalty against Samson Lee allowed Bleyendaal to boot Munster into a sixth-minute lead, but from a subsequent penalty advantage for Scarlets, winger Williams beat Earls to Patchell's brilliant cross-field kick for a momentum-building try.

The try's creator was unable to convert from the right touchline, and Munster had a real let-off when an error-prone Francis Saili went unpunished for a deliberate knock-on as McNicholl tried to exploit an overlap.

Patchell kicked Scarlets into a deserved 8-3 lead and it got worse for Munster from the restart as a fumbled ruck ball saw the Welshmen counter for a superb 19th-minute try. Quick passing out to the left, with Saili shooting up aimlessly, saw Jonathan Davies and Evans combine from deep for the latter's 13th try of the campaign.

Patchell converted and Munster were really rocking, the same space opening up on Conway's wing for the Llanelli outfit to flood forward, with only a knock-on from Gareth Davies preventing another long range try.

The Wales scrum-half had the score he desired just a few minutes later, centre Scott Williams taking advantage of a missed tackle to send Gareth Davies over for a seven-pointer.

Former Leinster lock Beirne twisted out of tackles from Dave Kilcoyne and CJ Stander to crash over for try number four, before a late Munster rally saw Conor Murray release his half-back partner to go over close to the posts.

Patchell kept Scarlets on course with a well-struck penalty early on the resumption, while Munster continued to be frustrated by their own ineffectiveness and their opponents' mostly water-tight defence.

Even when mistake-ridden Munster got up close to the try-line, their day was summed up when they had a penalty reversed for captain Peter O'Mahony's illegal entry at a ruck.

Excellent hands from centres Jonathan Davies and Williams sent Van der Merwe cutting in past two defenders and he duly fended off Jack O'Donoghue for a classy 69th-minute try, converted by Williams.

Conway profited from Rhys Marshall's break to run in a belated first try for Munster. A second quickly followed following an Earls intercept, but Scarlets deservedly had the final say thanks to flanker James Davies.

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