EDINBURGH 12 - MUNSTER 6: Munster’s hopes of putting pressure on Glasgow in conference A of the Pro14 were dashed last night at a bitterly cold BT Murrayfield where Edinburgh maintained their recent winning form with a deserved victory that owed everything to their adventurous spirit.
Yet for much of the game Munster, who had made six changes for the visit to the Scottish capital, were the stronger side in the forward exchanges and it looked as though their tight game plan and the boot of JJ Hanrahan would produce victory.
Indeed Munster’s plays off the lineout, their driving mauls and their one-pass rugby had Edinburgh on the back foot for much of the game, only for the visitors to be thwarted by two moments of genuine adventure that produced two winning tries, both scored by man-of-the-match Duhann van der Merwe.
Outstanding for Munster was number 8 Robin Copeland. The back row will be departing for Connacht at the end of this season and on current form the big man will be missed in the Munster ranks.
Against Edinburgh, Copeland carried ball excellently and produced one piece of exquisite footwork in extricating his side from a perilous situation on their own line.
Behind the scrum Munster’s attack was blunted when Simon Zebo was subbed for the second half. That left the forwards with the task of scoring points but on the night they were unable to deliver the killer blow when it mattered.
From the whistle, Munster were put under severe pressure and appeared to concede a try when Edinburgh’s Bill Mata burst over from a ruck only for referee Ben Whitehouse to rule out the score because of an infringement.
Munster again had to defend stoically as Edinburgh put pace into their game but the home side’s inaccuracy at crucial moments provided respite for the visitors.
Then from a lineout, Munster took possession and a high kick forced a penalty, converted into a three points dividend by outside half JJ Hanrahan.
Munster looked to build on their lead with another line-out move but this time the visitors were penalised at the breakdown on the Edinburgh 22m line. Minutes later after Edinburgh had been penalised, Munster again lost the ball in the contact area.
Dan Goggin came on for the injured Alex Wootten and almost the immediately the replacement was involved in the action, taking a pass close to the Edinburgh line, only to be bundled into touch.
If the game looked to be tilting towards Munster, then Edinburgh quickly scotched that notion. Sevens specialist Dougie Fife opted to run out of defence, the full back’s searing break supported by wing Duhann van der Merwe, who had the pace to make the try line giving Edinburgh a 5-3 half time lead.
Edinburgh looked hungry from the second half kick-off but the Munster forwards were able to swat off an attempt by the home pack to drive over the line. From the ensuing scrum Copeland broke clear before putting in an expertly placed 40 metre kick.
A second penalty by Hanrahan restored Munster’s lead and when Edinburgh’s wing Jason Harries was shown the yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Copeland, the visitors had the advantage.
But in the event it was 14-man Edinburgh who grabbed the next points, the home side recovering from having another score chalked off by moving hammering at the Munster line before moving the ball wide for Van der Merwe to take his fellow South African, Van der Welt’s, long pass before stepping the defence for his second score. This time Van der Welt succeeded with his conversion to put Edinburgh 12-6 ahead.
Edinburgh had a chance to increase their lead with a penalty attempt by replacement Duncan Weir, but the Scotland outside half found his kick into the wind, blown off course.
It mattered little, however, as Edinburgh were able to run down the clock to record a vital victory.
Tries: Van Der Merwe 2. Cons: Van Der Walt.
Fife, Harries, Bennett, Dean, Van Der Merwe, Van Der Walt, Hidalgo-Clyne, Lay, Cochrane, McCallum, McKenzie, B. Toolis, Bradbury, Hardie, Mata.
Weir for Van Der Walt (61), Fowles for Hidalgo-Clyne (11), Sutherland for Lay (56), Fenton for Cochrane (74), Berghan for McCallum (47), Carmichael for B. Toolis (56), Du Preez for Mata (46).
Pens: Hanrahan 2.
Zebo, Sweetnam, Arnold, R. Scannell, Wootton, Hanrahan, Hart, Cronin, Sherry, Archer, Kleyn, B. Holland, O’Donoghue, Oliver, Copeland.
B. Johnston for Zebo (41), Goggin for Wootton (32), Kilcoyne for Cronin (50), O’Byrne for Sherry (69), Scott for Archer (69), D. O’Shea for Kleyn (53), O’Donnell for Oliver (53). Referee:
Ben Whitehouse (Wales).
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