On a night when injuries and handling errors threatened to overshadow a promising display, Munster appear to have found another youngster with the potential to make a long-term impact.
Called into this RaboDirect Pro12 encounter with Ulster at Thomond Park on Saturday at short notice, Scott Deasy produced enough in the No 10 jersey to indicate he has become much more than a useful utility player.
Little wonder then he should smile at the end of a contest that yielded Munster a bonus-point victory over the team that knocked them out of the Heineken Cup. The win allowed Munster to steer clear of a semi-final clash with Leinster and they now head to Wales to take on Ospreys.
Deasy played his part in a victory that was rarely in doubt, Munster making most of the running from start to finish, although they made hard work of it.
“Yeah, I suppose we made mistakes but the positive to take is that we created a lot of scoring chances,” said Deasy. “We were a little bit off from an accuracy point of view but at least we created them.”
It was his first start at out-half for Munster at Thomond Park but an early taste of the action helped settle his nerves and two magnificent kicks from difficult positions allowed him grow into the game.
“I was happy overall, although there were a few bad decisions. From a team point of view we had lost to them four weeks ago and mentally were a bit down for a while after that so I think this will help and hopefully we can push on and defend our title.”
Munster laid down the ground rules as early as the seventh minute with a team try finished off by Simon Zebo, enhanced by Deasy’s conversion.
Andrew Trimble’s yellow card for obstruction on Zebo allowed Deasy to stretch the lead to 10, although that was quickly cut back when Paddy Jackson kicked a penalty.
Munster had plenty of possession and opportunity, but struggled to add to their total due to a series of errors as Ulster defended magnificently.
But Munster broke that wall down after Lifeimi Mafi’s midfield surge opened up a gap with Mike Sherry, Felix Jones, Mick O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell all handling before Peter O’Mahony surged over, Deasy converting.
Nine minutes on and Munster were completely in control with a third try from Mike Sherry and a conversion from Deasy, pushing the lead out to 21 points.
It was their game to lose and they never looked like succumbing even if they did concede a 53rd-minute try to Iain Henderson to leave it 24-8.
Both sides huffed and puffed after that score and O’Connell’s loss to injury but Munster got the bonus-point in the 76th minute when Stephen Archer got in for a try that substitute Declan Cusack converted. Tommy O’Donnell had the last say to push the score out to 36-8.
Scorers for Munster: Tries: O’Donnell, Archer, Sherry, O’Mahony, Zebo. Cons: Deasy 3, Cusack.Pen: Deasy.
Scorers for Ulster: Try: Henderson. Pen: Jackson.MUNSTER: F Jones, J Murphy, I Dineen, L Mafi, S Zebo, S Deasy, C Murray, W du Preez, M Sherry, BJ Botha, M O’Driscoll, P O’Connell (capt), D Ryan, P O’Mahony, T O’Donnell.
Replacements: D Varley for Sherry (50), P Butler for O’Connell (inj 53), T O’Leary for Murray (56), K Earls for Dineen (57), D Kilcoyne for Du Preez (65), S Archer for Botha (67), D O’Callaghan for O’Driscoll (70), D Cusack for Zebo (73), Sherry for Varley (inj 76).
ULSTER: A D’Arcy, A Trimble, N Spence, I Whitten, C Cochrane, P Jackson, P Marshall, P McAllister, N Brady (capt), D Fitzpatrick, L Stevenson, D Tuohy, I Henderson, R Diack, W Faloon.
Replacements: T Court for McAllister (inj 11), A Birch for Faloon (46), I Humphreys for Trimble (50), B McIllroy for Marshall (60), C Gilroy for D’Arcy (63), N Annett for Brady, C Black for Fitzpatrick (both 68). Temp: I Humphreys for Spence (36-40).
Referee: A Rolland (IRFU).
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