Cork Constitution 6 Young Munster 9
Temple Hill is becoming a home away from home for Young Munster as they collected their first away win since January 4; the date of their last visit to Cork Constitution’s home turf.
The Limerick side had failed to collect so much as a losing bonus point away from Tom Clifford Park in the past 10 months, while their last road trip ended in a 42-0 hammering, which goes some way to explain why Young Munster were the ones to grit out the win as tough conditions made it a battle of wills on Saturday.
Although Con dominated much of the opening period, it was the visitors, via a reformed scrum, who won the crucial penalty for the only score in the final hour.
It was a “special” victory in the eyes of coach John Staunton: “Our home form has been good but we knew coming down today, if we were anyway serious about getting good performances, we needed to come down and win.
“Plus this is as close as it gets to a derby match for us because we don’t have any Limerick derbies in the league this year.”
With a deceptive cross-field wind, constant rain and sodden ground conditions, hard yards gained by the forwards were key to wearing down the Cork hosts.
“We’ve good memories of coming down here,” added Satunton. “Our lads have credit due to them because we were creaking in the first-half at times and we made an awful lot of unforced errors.
“I don’t think I can come away from the match and say we played well, because we didn’t, but we adjusted to the conditions and we did our bread and butter basics very well. Our scrum came good, our lineout maul came good and we carried really hard in the middle of the field — Sean Rennison had a huge game after coming on and must have had ten carries.”
It seemed almost too easy for the side in black and amber early on as Ben Martin slotted a penalty from the first play, before Willie Staunton kicked a fourth minute drop goal, with a penalty advantage on his side.
However, Con would play the rest of the half in Munsters’ territory, with Darragh Lyons, on his 160th AIL appearance, kicking two tough penalties to level by the 20th minute.
The latter penalty was the first of four to be awarded to Con, who were dominating the scrum through Gavin Duffy and Munster ‘A’ men, Max Abbott and Rory Burke.
A frustrated Hugh McGrath was sin binned on the stroke of half-time for an off the ball push. However, Lyons’ penalty fell short and Munsters successfully disrupted Con’s set-pieces at the start of the second-half to nullify the advantage.
They stopped the Con lineout from functioning and began to turn the tide in the scrum, with Martin Kelly in the anchor position. In the 68th minute the pressure finally told, with Kelly getting the better of Duffy, who was yellow carded, as Martin dissected the posts.
The lineout maul was a key exit strategy for Munsters, marching out of their own territory and putting Con down to 13 men when James Ryan went to the bin for collapsing.
“We didn’t really get many opportunities in the second half,” said Con coach Tom Tierney after seeing his side squeezed out of the game. “Munsters got one and they took it. When weather conditions are like that it’s an absolute lottery and what you try to do during the week and how you want to play the game goes out the window.”
CORK CONSTITUTION: T Quinlan; L Duffy, N Hodson, N Kenneally, R Jermyn; D Lyons, G Hurley; G Duffy, M Abbott, R Burke; C O’Flaherty, G Lawlor; J Murphy, J Ryan, L Cahill.
Rolling Replacements: A Slattery, G Sweeney, F McSwiney, M Keyes, D Sweetnam.
YOUNG MUNSTER: B Martin; D O’Connor, D Goggin, S O’Leary, E O’Keeffe; W Staunton, R Guerin; G Ryan, G Slattery, H McGrath; T Goggin, S Duggan; A Kennedy, D Ryan, Y Browne.
Rolling Replacements: S Fenton, M Kelly, S Rennison, W Casey, E Carr.
Referee: D Phillips (IRFU).
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