Anthony Foley lauds ‘exceptional’ Conor Murray as Munster hold on against Edinburgh

Edinburgh 14 Munster 16

Anthony Foley lauds ‘exceptional’ Conor Murray as Munster hold on against Edinburgh

They had to survive a late scare as Edinburgh came desperately close to snatching a result in the dying seconds, only for scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne’s attempted drop-goal to be charged down by the Munster defence.

But in the end it was a win, even if Munster lived dangerously. Over the piece, Anthony Foley’s men had the greater share of territory, particularly in the first half and controlled the game cleverly through half-backs Conor Murray, making a return from international duty, and Ian Keatley, whose delicate kicks kept Edinburgh on the back foot in the first half.

Moreover, Keatley kicked four goals, one from just inside the Edinburgh half that sneaked over the bar with barely a centimetre to spare. And it was goal kicking that divided the teams.

Edinburgh, through Hidalgo-Clyne also kicked three goals, but the scrum-half’s conversion attempt off Will Helu’s second-half try struck the upright.

“I thought we played well in the first half. We controlled a lot of the game but then we allowed them into the game and one or two loose kicks and missed tackles allowed their back three to play with more tempo,” suggested Foley, whose nerves took a shredding first when a five-metre scrum went against the head and then in the final minute, when a slack pass allowed Edinburgh winger Damien Hoyland to race through a disorganised defence, all but producing a try.

“Towards the end of the match we wrestled the game back from them. We had a five-metre scrum and the referee calls a free-kick. We should have parked up there for the remainder of the game. But we threw an intercept when we should have kicked it out of the stadium. I’m very relieved now but I thought we were well worth our win.

“It was great to have Conor and Keith Earls back. Quality players give confidence to those around them. Conor’s ability as a scrum-half is exceptional. There’s no one in the northern hemisphere to touch him. I thought Keith had an excellent game.” said Foley.

The match was just seven minutes old when Edinburgh full-back Blair Kinghorn was forced to slide into touch in goal when dealing with a clever grubber kick from Keatley, resulting in a five-metre scrum. Two plays later, prop John Ryan dotted down at the foot of the left hand post, leaving Keatley with the easiest of conversions.

A penalty by Keatley completed Munster’s scoring in a first half in which they had dominated territorially, Edinburgh having accumulated their points tally from two Hidalgo-Clyne kicks.

Edinburgh’s dynamic start to the second half brought a rapid result when Cornell du Preez sent Hoyland scorching up the right flank with Helu eventually diving over.

If that score boosted Edinburgh’s confidence then so did Munster’s indiscipline which reduced the visitors to 14 men for the second time, centre Francis Saili the culprit this time, giving Hidalgo-Clyne his third success in front of the posts for a 14-10 lead.

Clever positional kicking from Keatley and Murray exerted immediate pressure on Edinburgh and when Ross Ford conceded a penalty in the shadow of his own posts, Keatley delivered the points.

Keatley showed his kicking skills again with a long-range goal after Munster won a scrum penalty. Edinburgh hit back with a late rally, triggered by Hoyland’s interception, that ended with the home side hammering the visitors’ line.

Hidalgo-Clyne attempted a drop-goal from deep only for CJ Stander to charge down the kick, leaving the visitors relieved but happy winners.

EDINBURGH: B Kinghorn (D Fife 54); D Hoyland, W Helu (A Strauss 78), M Scott, T Brown; G Tonks, S Hidalgo-Clyne; A Dickinson, R Ford, WP Nel (J Andress 60); A Bresler, A Toolis; M Coman (N Manu 67), H Watson (R Grant 73), C Du Preez.

MUNSTER: S Zebo; G van den Heever (D Hurley 70), K Earls, F Saili, R O’Mahony; I Keatley, C Murray; D Kilcoyne (J Cronin 48), D Casey (N Scannell 67), J Ryan (M Sagario 56); D Ryan, D Foley; D O’Callaghan (J Coughlan 63), J O’Donoghue (R Copeland 70), CJ Stander.

Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU).

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