Munster A face an uphill struggle to make the knockout stages of the B and I Cup following this latest reversal to Worcester Warriors at the Cork Institute of Technology grounds last night.
Munster did pick up a losing bonus point but assistant coach Greig Oliver is well aware of the necessity to round off the campaign on a victorious note away to Moseley next week.
Topping the group is now out of the question so Munster will be chasing one of the three best runner-up spots from five groups and Oliver thinks it might even be necessary to take five points from that encounter.
“They took over in the second half, the physicality was a big thing in the second half, we couldn’t get enough ball to play in that period. We need to win now in Moseley but it can be done. ”
He watched in awe of a very experienced, hugely physical Worcester team picking off Munster in the second half after the youthful home side had shown promise and skill to lead 15-6 at the interval.
In an amazing start, Worcester found themselves down to 14 men inside a minute, winger Josh Watkins sent to the bin for an ill-timed aerial tackle on Rory Scannell. It led to a spell of pressure on the visitors, whose cause wasn’t helped either by the loss of prop forward Rob O’Donnell through injury after four minutes. Having conceded a third successive penalty, Worcester fell behind to a Scannell penalty in seven minutes. Yet, Ignacio Mieres kicked an equalising penalty two minutes later when Munster were deemed guilty of bringing down a scrum.
Once back to full strength, Worcester moved into a higher gear and deservedly went in front with a second penalty from Mieres. Unfortunately for them, they failed to deal with the kick-off and Munster regained the lead instantly with an excellent try, Sean McCarthy winning the aerial combat and then feeding skipper Jack O’Donoghue, the youngster speeding down the wing for a great but unconverted try and an 8-6 lead.
It got better four minutes later when Andrew Conway was sent into space by Rory Scannell and his kick and chase ended with another try in the right corner, this time successfully converted by the out-half for a 15-6 advantage.
Munster might well have pressed ahead again only to see Ronan O’Mahony’s drive for the line two minutes before the interval come up just short.
Worcester came storming out of the blocks in the second half and began to get a grip on the game only to run up against a hugely determined Munster defence. They held sway on territory but dogged Munster held firm until finally visiting skipper JB Bruzulier drove over from a maul in the 61st minute and Mieres converted to make it a two point game.
Scannell kicked another penalty five minutes later and that gave Munster a degree of breathing space. But the visitors continued to attack and substitute scrum-half Charlie Mulchrone surged over at the posts for an excellent individual try 73rd minute try that Mieres converted to put the visitors 20-18 in front. Mieres also had the last say with an injury-time penalty.
MUNSTER: A Conway, G O’Shea, I Dineen N Hodson, R O’Mahony, R Scannell, N Cronin, J Ryan, N Scannell, M Kelly, D O’Callaghan, S McCarthy, S Buckley, R Murphy, J O’Donoghue (captain).
Replacements: L Cahill for S McCarthy (71), L O’Connor for Kelly (76), M Abbott for N Scannell (82).
WORCESTER WARRIORS: B Howard, J Watkins, A Grove, R Fatiaki, I Mieres, JB Bruzulier (captain), O Fainga’anuku, B Sowrey, R O’Donnell, J Percival, D Sanderson, R de Carpentier, M Gilbert, M Cox.
Replacements: J Rees for O’Donnell (4), J Stephenson for Watkins (51), C Mulchrone for Bruzulier (70)
Referee: R Thomas (WRU).