It was a tough end for a Munster side that gave as good as they got throughout an exciting contest. The penalty try was probably inevitable as Cornish Pirates piled on the pressure with a series of strong scrums that forced Munster to concede a succession of penalties before referee Ian Tempest finally lost patience.
But it shouldn’t have come to that. The pressure exerted by the visitors in that sequence was isolated to just that few minutes of a second half dominated by Munster, although not always in the set pieces. Ironically, field position was conceded when Munster coughed up possession from their own lineout throw.
Munster coach Ian Costello was clearly disappointed, noting: “I thought we were in control and we had chances to finish off the game, to get beyond the seven points lead we would have needed.
“What transpired should have been in our control but we lost more lineouts than we would have expected, threw away a couple of loose passes in good attacking positions and turned over a couple of vital scrums. For all that, we should still have won.”
Both sides struggled to cope with the wind, particularly with kicks out of hand. But Munster were aggressive, both in defence and attack, where outhalf Scott Deasy was clever in his use of possession, although they were still unable to create any clear opportunities.
That was until Deasy’s 35th minute break, courtesy of the initial surge from Stephen Archer, and the outhalf opened up the Cornish defence. Rhodri McAtee’s quick thinking saved the day when he got between Deasy and a scoring pass to Paddy Butler.
The opening points finally came after 39 minutes when Cook knocked over his second penalty attempt from close range.
Eight minutes into the second half, Munster came agonisingly close to grabbing the opening try, Deasy’s dink fastened onto by JJ Hanrahan who was barely closed down as he raced clear. To make it worse, Deasy sent a resulting penalty to the right and wide.
Still, Munster cranked up the pressure and they were rewarded with a 54th minute penaltym that Deasy kicked from in front of the posts as the Pirates strayed offside and substitute Blair Crowan was shown yellow.
Further Munster pressure deservedly yielded another score, with Deasy again kicking the points from an easy angle and short distance for a 6-3 lead. It was no less than Munster deserved and they kept on searching for the elusive try, Billy Holland’s pass inside to Ronan O’Mahony going astray with a try looking certain in the 66th minute.
Sadly for them, it all fell apart in those closing seconds.
MUNSTER: L O’Dea, R O’Mahony, T Gleeson, JJ Hanrahan, S Zebo, S Deasy, P Stringer, D Kilcoyne, S Henry, S Archer, M O’Driscoll, I Nagle, B Holland (capt), P Butler, T O’Donnell.
Replacements: D Casey for Henry (injured, 28), C Hircock for O’Dea (injured, 40), D Williams for Stringer (56), D Foley for Nagle (62). Temporary, C Condon for Kilcoyne (inj, 67-72).
CORNISH PIRATES: M Evans, R McAtee, D Locke, S Hill, D Doherty, R Cook, T Kessell, R Storer, D Ward, C Rimmer, L McGlone, I Nimmo, C Moran (capt), K Marriott, C Walker-Blair.
Replacements: B Cowan for Walker-Blair (50), P Andrew for Storer (63), P. Burgess for Marriott (68).
Referee: I Tempest (England).