Storm Jorge certainly made its presence felt at Thomond Park this evening, the gale force wind more or less ruling out cohesive, well planned football for the participants on the pitch and turning what should have been an entertaining, rewarding couple of hours for the small number of spectators into an exercise in forbearance and patience.
In the circumstances, all concerned are to be congratulated for their honest endeavours, especially Munster whose flattering 29-12 bonus point victory moves them to within two points of Pro 14 Conference B leaders Edinburgh, 14-6 winners over Cardiff Blues on Friday night. Hooker Kevin O’Brien was voted man of the match although replacement Gavin Coombes was also a star with his two crucial tries I the dying minutes that earned the bonus point.
Out-half Angus O’Brien kicked the second of two goal kicks on six minutes for Scarlets before Munster gradually settled in spite of struggling badly at line-out time. Constant pressure told when JJ Hanrahan kicked a close range penalty after thirty attacking phases.
The game really came to life on 32 minute when a lovely kick through by scrum-half Craig Casey brought play to the Scarlets line where after their second-row Sam Lousi stupidly threw a couple of punches into the faces of Hanrahan and Fineen Wycherley leaving Scottish referee Mike Adamson with little option but to wave the red card. Munster short tapped the resultant penalty and number eight Jack O’Sullivan crashed over what will surely be the first of many Munster tries, Hanrahan converting to leave the home side 10-3 ahead at the break.
Skipper Holland and Scarlet substitute Javan Sebastian exchanged close range tries in the first twenty minutes of the second half with O’Brien’s successful conversion leaving just five points between the sides. Scarlets were reduced to thirteen when substitute Tevita Ratuva was harshly yellow carded for a dangerous tackle and Munster capitalised when Gavin Coombes crashed over and Hanrahan converted with a beautifully judged kick.
Munster were now within touching distance of a bonus try and Darren Sweetnam was inches short with three minutes on the clock. Right on 80 minutes, their line-out maul was held up again as close as it was possible to be before Coombes again displayed his strength to touch down his second try in the 3rd minute of stoppage time.
Hanrahan’s conversion made it 29-10 and a precious bonus point win for Munster.
– M Haley; C Nash, C Farrell, D Goggin, D Sweetnam; JJ Hanrahan, C Casey; J Cronin K O’Byrne, S Archer, F Wycherley, B Holland capt, A Botha, C Cloete, J O’Sullivan. Replacements, D Barron, J Loughman, J Ryan, G Coombes, J Hodnett, N McunCarthy, R Scannell, T O’Donnell.
– A O’Brien; C Baldwin, P Asquith, S Hughes capt, S Evans; D Jones, J Evans; P Price, T Davies, W Kruger, L Rawlins, S Lousi, A Shingler, J Macleod, U Casseim. Replacements – I Phillips, Dylan Evans, J Sebastian, T Ratuva, S Cummins, D Davis, D Blacker, R Conbeer
- Mike Adamson (Scotland).