It may not have been the prettiest of performances but Munster’s win at Edinburgh’s Myreside ground by the slenderest of margins was enough to propel the Thomond Park men to the top of the Guinness Pro12 table.
Overall Munster fully deserved their win and in drier conditions they might have won by more points. Throughout the match, their pack was on the front foot, exhibiting what rugby cognescenti like to call ‘grunt’.
And behind the scrum skipper Tyler Bleyendaal provided the authority needed to lift confidence in what was an inexperienced starting team. The outside half, aside from a couple of overcooked touch finders in the second half used the boot astutely helping Munster win the territorial battle.
Munster made a powerful set-piece statement in the opening minute winning a penalty at the first scrum and then securing possession from the ensuing line-out only to be thwarted by Edinburgh when the ball was spun wide.
Edinburgh quickly replied with a show of elan from their capped wing Damien Hoyland, whose chip ahead had the Munster defence scrambling desperately. Then from a scrum Edinburgh won a penalty and from just outside the 22m line out half Jason Tovey gave the Scottish capital side three points.
Then when Ronan O’Mahony kicked ahead it was Edinburgh who were in trouble, the follow-up forcing the home side to carry the ball over their line. Edinburgh were penalised at the five metre scrum that followed and Munster opted for a second shove at their opponents.
It provided the platform for a series of short drives at the line but when the ball was finally moved wide O’Mahony was on hand to take Tyler Bleyendaal’s scoring pass, the conversion by the out half giving Munster a 7-3 lead.
A second penalty by Tovey, after Duncan Williams had been sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, ate into the Munster lead. Munster however rode the absence of Williams with skilful kicking from Belyendaal that kept Edinburgh penned in their own half only to concede a scrum penalty a minute before the scrum half returned to the field allowing Tovey to kick his third goal.
Munster came desperately close to a second try just on half time but it was Edinburgh who trooped into the tunnel as leaders at the break.
Munster made five changes in the first 10 minutes of the second half giving the forward pack more beef and a bit more nous from the likes of Tommy O’Donnell, but it was Edinburgh who had the first real chance to score in the second half when they set up a maul from a penalty-created line-out.
Munster, however, were able to deal with the immediate pressure, before putting a squeeze on Edinburgh that ended with Bleyendaal giving the Irish province the lead with a penalty goal.
Then when Edinburgh gave away a scrum penalty Bleyendaal found good field position with his touch kick to provide an attacking platform for Munster. But in the wet conditions Munster were unable to control the ball.
It mattered little as Munster were able to contain any breakouts by Edinburgh with their famed defence only. Munster however had a late scare when Edinburgh full back Blair Kinghorn had a long range shot at goal from inside his own half. The ball fell just short, to the relief of the Munster men.
Tries: R. O’Mahony. Cons: Bleyendaal. Pens: Bleyendaal.
Kinghorn, Hoyland, Dean, Burleigh, Brown, Tovey, Kennedy, Cosgrove, Cochrane, McCallum, McKenzie, B. Toolis, Bradbury, Hardie, Du Preez.
Scholes for Burleigh (79), Hidalgo-Clyne for Kennedy (70), McInally for Cochrane (58), Mata for Hardie (66).
Taute, Nash, Saili, Goggin, R. O’Mahony, Bleyendaal, Williams, McCabe, Marshall, Archer, Kleyn, Foley, D. O’Callaghan, Oliver, O’Donoghue.
R. Scannell for Nash (49), O’Byrne for Marshall (52), Scott for Archer (52), D. O’Shea for Kleyn (72), B. Holland for Foley (44), O’Donnell for Oliver (44).
Ben Whitehouse (Wales).