Yorkshire Carnegie 43 Munster A 29: Munster A’s valiant second-half fightback was all in vain as relieved Yorkshire Carnegie eventually claimed victory to all but seal Pool Three’s top spot in the British & Irish Cup.
The visitors would have moved into first themselves with victory, with just one fixture then remaining at home to London Scottish next week in Midleton, but they were 31-10 down by half-time.
Former Saracens flanker Andy Saull scored a first-half hat-trick of Carnegie tries all from lineout drives and, when he added his fourth in the 48th minute after Munster A prop Brendan Quinlan was penalised for a scrum offence, it looked like the English side, leading 38-10, would run away with things.
However, Mick O’Driscoll’s gutsy team did not concede again while down to 14 men and, instead, bizarrely, scored twice themselves via lock Lee Nicholas and full-back David Johnston to leave their opponents shaken.
Both came from fine Duncan Williams passes, the clever scrum-half who had also dummied over himself in the first half.
Johnny Holland, who had kicked a conversion and a penalty early on, improved the first of those second-half tries to see Munster A trail just 38-22 going into the final quarter.
When back to a full complement, Williams then popped up to fire out another pass for centre Cian Bohane to claim Munster A’s bonus-point try in the 72nd minute.
Holland’s successful conversion left Carnegie hanging on at the death.
Indeed, they needed replacement Pete Lucock’s injury-time try to finally settle home nerves, hooker Joe Graham and centre Andy Forsyth having scored their other first-half tries.
Elsewhere, Leinster A beat Moseley 49-24 on Saturday to secure a home quarter-final.
Ulster Ravens were beaten 22-17 at home by Bedford Blues and have now lost the chance of qualification, while Connacht lost to Doncaster by 40-0 at the Sportsground.
T Prell; O Goss, T Casson (T Casson 61), A Forsyth, D Doherty; J Hodgson, M Green; C Beech (Imiolek 72), J Graham, B Hooper; T Ryder (Schofield 68), M Smith; M Myerscough, A Saull (Bainbridge 61), J Williams.
Nilsen, O’Donnell, Sinfield.
D Johnston (N Hodson 76); S Fitzgerald, D Goggin (Sweetnam 54), C Bohane, G van den Heever; J Holland, D Williams (R Foley 79); B Quinlan, E Rossiter (S Fenton 79), P McCabe (C Oliver 61); L Nicholas (B Kilkenny 79), S McCarthy; J Coghlan, S Doyle (Scott 52), S Buckley.
Craig Evans (WRU)
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