Munster 45 Borders 8
Shaun Payne and Rob Henderson each pushed their Ireland credentials tonight as Munster ran in six tries against the hapless Borders, chalking up their eighth straight Celtic League win.
Steve Bates’ side had little or no answer to Munster, marshalled superbly by fly-half Paul Burke – who also made seven successful kicks.
Payne, Henderson, second rows Trevor Hogan and Tom Bowman, flanker Stephen Keogh and substitute Martin McPhail all got on the scoresheet as Alan Gaffney’s men temporarily went second in the table.
A sharp break by Payne, who missed out on inclusion in tomorrow’s international against the US Eagles, saw Munster 7-0 up after just two minutes. With Ally Warnock kicking Borders’ reply four minutes later, Munster quickly upped the ante – hitting their Scottish visitors for 24 more points before the half’s end.
Three Burke kicks to the corner saw Munster gain a flurry of line-out chances -and from the last, Australian Bowman ploughed over on 18 minutes.
Centre Jason Holland broke free to put Ireland Under-21s’ Keogh over three minutes later – and superb handling from the returning Alan Quinlan and captain Jim Williams on 38 minutes saw Hogan celebrate his 25th birthday in style nearing the stroke of half time.
His first try in nine appearances earned Munster their bonus point – and although they sat back for a time after the restart with Borders’ Calum McRae and Drew Moore doing well in attack, they still edged the second half by nine points.
Henderson broke clear on 48 minutes, despite Borders’ early pressure, to charge over for his second try in two games – converted again by Burke.
Charlie Hore did get a try for the visitors – hurdling four tacklers in a 40metre dash to the line nearing the hour mark. But with Warnock’s conversion attempt sailing wide, the Borders’ fightback petered out.
Still without a league win since March, Bates’ men failed to hold out a sixth Munster effort as UL Bohemians’ flyer McPhail – named earlier this week in the Ireland Sevens squad for next month’s Dubai tournament – got over again on 69 minutes.
Burke’s conversion saw the former Harlequin hit the 80-point mark for the season already.