Oliver stars as polished Munster book final place

Munster A produced a tremendous performance at the Cork Institute of Technology sports arena last night to deservedly advance to the final of the B&I Cup at the expense of Ealing Trailfinders.
Oliver stars as polished Munster book final place

B&I Cup semi-final

Munster A 25

Ealing Trailfinders 9

Munster will look back happily on a polished team performance, though one had to pick out flanker Conor Oliver for special mention in a man-of-the-match performance.

The only blight on an otherwise happy night was an injury to out half Bill Johnson, who was taken off on a stretcher in the first half with an ankle injury.

For now, they can look forward to a tilt at either London Irish or Jersey, who meet today in the second semi-final, and the positive news for Peter Malone and his charges is that they have secured a home game in the decider, probably to be played on the weekend of April 21-23.

Munster took the lead when Bill Johnston smacked over a 16th minute penalty, and the nifty out-half was also on hand to convert an excellent try from centre Sam Arnold after Oliver played a central role in the build up.

Ealing hit back with a 26th-minute penalty from Rory Clegg, but Munster continued to be the more dangerous.

Out-half Johnston’s brilliant 32nd-minute break so nearly ended in a try but instead finished with an injury that ended his participation in the game; he was brought down and damaged his knee in the process of trying to wriggle clear.

Rather than let that injury upset them, Munster responded quickly with their second try. Darren O’Shea won a line out, Oliver sped off, linked with Kevin O’Byrne, and was on hand to take a return pass and race in for the score that David Johnston converted for a 17-3 lead, before Ealing hit back for two injury time penalties from Clegg, leaving the penalty count at 11-4 heavily weighted in favour of the visitors.

Munster had a great start to the second half when Oliver intercepted and raced 50 metres for a third try to extend the lead to 22-9.

They suffered a blow when Copeland was shown yellow, but Munster played down the 10 minutes cleverly, keeping the ball in hand, battling for every scrap of possession and winning two lineouts against the throw to keep Ealing’s chances of prospering to nothing. When Copeland came back, it was with Duncan Casey and Liam O’Connor in tow as reserves. The fresh legs helped Munster back on the front foot and Johnston kicked a penalty to extend the lead to 15 points at 25-9. With a determined defence, they held that lead to the end despite a late rally from the visitors.

Munster A:

D Johnston; D Goggin, S Arnold, C Bohane (captain) A Wootton; B Johnston, J Poland; P McCabe, K O’Byrne, B Scott; J Madigan, D O’Shea; S O’Connor, C Oliver, R Copeland.

Replacements:

S Fitzgerald for B Johnston (31, injured), M Chisholm for Madigan (53), D Casey for O’Byrne, L O’Connor for McCabe (both 60), R Burke for Scott (70), J Stafford for Poland (71), G Coombes for O’Connor (72).

Ealing Trailfinders:

W Harries; C Wilson, L Jones, L Peters, P Chesters; R Clegg, L Carter; W Davis, A Walker, L Thiede; L Jones, G Townson; W Ryan, R Smid, M Bright (captain).

Replacements:

M Cornish for Walker, S Rodman for Thiede, J Davies for Carter, A Penberthy for Clegg (all 49), H Casson for Townson (53), A Ellis for Bright (63).

Referee:

R Thomas (Wales)

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