Botha cries off as Munster fail to fire

THE sight of new signing BJ Botha hobbling off with a calf muscle injury after 27 minutes and then limp from the ground with the aid of crutches was as much a disappointment and a worry to the Munster as this defeat at Musgrave Park last night

With Botha certain to be sidelined for at least a few weeks, Munster also lost their second pre-season friendly on the trot, and they can’t really have any complaints as they played second fiddle to a slick but hardly inspirational Wasps team.

Although Munster had their moments, particularly when they created a couple of try-scoring chances in the first half, although they raised cheers with two prolonged forward drives in that spell, they really only finally appeared to respond to the challenge after Wasps grabbed the first try of a tie that was littered with handling mistakes.

And they can’t complain about the support they got, with close to 4,500 fans managing to create an atmosphere that sadly neither side could properly respond to by their actions on the pitch.

Munster coach Tony McGahan had no quibble with the outcome, outlining that his side turned over too much possession and didn’t win enough quality ball from the set pieces.

“I don’t think we (the backs) had much opportunity to create anything. If you look at the attack it comes from a set piece perspective and once you lose lineouts, as we did, it gives you virtually no platform to play off and the attack suffers. We had a few opportunities in the first half but none over the 40 metre area in the second half. There lies the game,” he said.

In a competitive if generally boring first half, Wasps got the opening score from the boot of Ryan Davis at the second time of asking. It came in the 14th minute before Munster came close to getting the first try of the match, with Doug Howlett just missing out on the touch after Peter Stringer’s chip.

Thereafter Munster weren’t always so clever, coughing up a couple of their own line-out throws and having to contend with some positive attacking from Wasps wingers Tom Varndell and Christian Wade, without ever producing more of their own; that is until an assault spearheaded by Peter O’Mahony and Dave O’Callaghan helped create a huge chance for Lifeimi Mafi, who was beaten by a wicked bounce following a superb chip from Declan Cusack just on the stroke of 40 minutes.

The second half brought more of the same, with both sides ringing the changes and the plethora of errors continued as players struggled to find their feet; it was, of course, for many the first game of the season. And it showed.

For once, Wasps managed to complete a decent attacking movement in the 63nd minute when Varndell was sent in for a fine try in the corner after a counter-attack from a Munster turnover, and substitute Nicky Robinson converted.

They scored again in injury time when Matt Everard emerged from a pile of bodies with the ball clutched triumphantly in his grasp. It wasn’t a big game day to score but it was his debut after his move from Leicester Tigers.

MUNSTER: S Deasy; D Howlett, D Barnes, L Mafi, S Zebo; D Cusack, P Stringer; W du Preez, M Sherry, BJ Botha; B Holland, I Nagle; D O’Callaghan, P Butler, P O’Mahony (capt).

Replacements: S Archer for Botha (27), D Williams for Stringer (40), D Fogarty for Sherry, D Foley for Holland (both 47), T O’Donnell for O’Callaghan, J Coughlan for Butler, T Gleeson for Mafi, S Scanlon for Barnes, D Hurley for Cusack, M Horan for Du Preez (all 53).

LONDON WASPS: J Wallace; T Varndell, C Mayor, C Bell, C Wade; R Davis, N Berry; J Castex, T Lyndsay, S McIntyre; J Cannon, M Wentzel; R Birkett, J Hart (capt), J Harris.

Replacements used:. B Baker, G Roan, B Vunipola, N Morris, B Broster, C Davis, A Cheesman, R Houghton, N Robinson, J Holmes, M Everard.

Referee: D Phillips (IRFU)

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