Edinburgh experience too much as youthful Munster lose out

Edinburgh experience too much as youthful Munster lose out

Munster 16 - 18 Edinburgh

Munster’s much-changed side grew into this Pro14 game at Musgrave Park but ultimately the experience in the Edinburgh starting XV was too much for Johann van Graan’s men.

Ahead of the game, all eyes were on the half-back pairing of Nick McCarthy and Irish U20 international Ben Healy who was making his senior debut. But the home side got off to the worst possible start with McCarthy and Healy sharing the blame with an early blunder, the pre-match attention perhaps getting to the pair.

Straight from kick-off Munster were under the cosh, and a poor pass from the back of the ruck from McCarthy wasn’t gathered by Healy with the ball spilling between his legs and behind the tryline.

Munster had no choice but to concede the 5-metre scrum under pressure from Edinburgh, and the visitors were in no mood to let such a gift go to waste. Centre Matt Scott bundled the ball over, leaving Jaco van der Walt with a regulation conversion.

Munster were slow to recover from the early concession, but crucially - apart from a penalty midway through the half won from the scrum - Edinburgh couldn’t make their early dominance pay.

That concession of a further three points seemed to wake the home team from their slumber, and their first real spell of sustained possession and pressure was rewarded with three points of their own.

Edinburgh’s failure to roll away gave Ben Healy his first chance to put points on the board, and from just outside the Edinburgh 22-metre line the debutant made no mistake.

Edinburgh continued to knock on the door, and a break through midfield from Jaco van der Walt provided another scare for the home side. Munster no. 8 Arno Botha however was well-placed to snuff out the danger with a timely interception from van der Walt’s offload.

It was then Munster’s turn to capitalise on an error, sloppy defensive play resulting in a penalty to Munster on the right wing, a decision celebrated on the pitch by the Munster players.

Healy found touch and Munster built an attack inside the 22-metre from the lineout. That most reliable of Munster weapons did not let them down and was followed up through the phases with more good forward play.

Finding themselves under siege under their own posts, Edinburgh gamely resisted - even lifting the padding from the posts to try to prevent the try - but after a long spell of consultation referee Marius Mitrea eventually awarded Munster the try, Tommy O’Donnell finishing the move. Healy again made no mistake from the conversion.

Edinburgh experience too much as youthful Munster lose out

Parity thus restored, Munster tried to make their own period in the ascendancy count but another lineout inside the Edinburgh 22-metre line - this time on the left wing - failed to bring a return.

The start of the second half gave Healy another chance to put points on the board, as Edinburgh coughed up an early penalty just inside their own half. With a strong breeze building, Healy did extremely well to find the posts, his early fumble now long forgotten.

Captain Jack O’Donoghue then made a superb last-ditch tackle to save what looked like a lost cause after McNally broke through the defence before offloading to Magnus Bradbury.

The sides then traded penalties, Healy successfully kicking his fourth before Simon Hickey - off the bench to replace van der Walt - brought Edinburgh back to within three of the home side.

Reinforcements from the bench gave Munster added experience on the pitch for the closing twenty minutes, with Healy making way for Hanrahan and Holloway also entering the fray. An early mistake aside, Healy

It wasn’t enough to prevent the game’s crucial score though, as a clever cross-field kick from Blair Kinghorn inside the Munster 22 found winger Eroni Sau in plenty of space on the right wing. Hickey couldn’t convert from the right but Edinburgh held their two-point lead through the closing stages.

Munster had few chances from there to regain the lead, hemmed in for most of the closing stages in their own half. Edinburgh controlled the game late on as they had in the opening 20 minutes, holding the home side at arm’s length to emerge with the narrow victory.

Scorers:

Munster: Healy (1 conv, 3 pen), O'Donnell (1 try)

Edinburgh: van der Walt (1 conv, 1 pen), Hickey (1 pen), Scott (1 try), Sau (1 try)

Munster: Shane Daly; Calvin Nash, Sammy Arnold (Scannell 61), Dan Goggin, Alex Wootton; Ben Healy (Hanrahan 61), Nick McCarthy (N. Cronin 70); Liam O’Connor (J. Cronin 64), Rhys Marshall (O’Byrne 68), Stephen Archer (Knox 64); Fineen Wycherley, Darren O’Shea (Holloway 61); Jack O’Donoghue (c), Tommy O’Donnell (Oliver 65), Arno Botha.

Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin, Keynan Knox, Jed Holloway, Conor Oliver, Neil Cronin, JJ Hanrahan, Rory Scannell.

Edinburgh: Blair Kinghorn; Eroni Sau, Mark Bennett, Matt Scott, Duhan van der Merwe; Jaco van der Walt (Hickey 53), Henry Pyrgos (c); Pierre Schoeman (Sutherland 70), Stuart McInally (Willemse 64), Pietro Ceccarelli (Berghan 53); Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist; Magnus Bradbury, Hamish Watson, Villiame Mata.

Replacements: Michael Willemse, Rory Sutherland, Simon Berghan, Lewis Carmichael, Ally Miller, Charlie Shiel, Simon Hickey, George Taylor.

Referee: Marius Mitrea

Assistants: Sean Gallagher, Matteo Liperini

TMO: Stefano Penne

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