Munster A 23 Plymouth Albion 9
Munster A had to call upon all of their resources to put gutsy Plymouth Albion to the sword in the return B&I Cup clash between the sides at the Regional Sports Centre, Waterford last night.
With minutes left on the clock, Munster were hanging onto a seven-point lead and likely to yield at least a losing bonus point to the English outfit. But they dug deep and produced a late offensive that produced a crucial try by C J Stander, unerring goalkicker Johnny Holland converting.
Although it was far from a comprehensive win and Munster made a number of disappointing unforced errors, coach Peter Malone was pleased with the outcome.
“Tough game, give respect to Plymouth, they’re a good team and we found that out last week. They came here fired up. The goal was to win and not to give them a losing bonus point; over the two games it has ended up a draw, we’ve both got four points and we would have taken that at the start.”
Plymouth remain top of the group on points difference only and Malone believes his side is capable of overtaking them. “We both play Nottingham and Stirling County, so it all depends on how each of us get on in those games. It’s all to play for.”
Munster stormed into the attack from the off, a brilliant run by Alex Wootton and another strong break from Stander just coming up short before Plymouth conceded a penalty to Johnny Holland. But Munster’s lead lasted a minute before Dan Mugford knocked over a Plymouth penalty.
Munster were dominating territorially, but their handling left something to be desired and they fell behind to a second Mugford penalty on 13 minutes after a superb break by Ruairi Cushion. Holland added a second penalty for Munster after 16 minutes and they were back in the hunt.
Nine minutes later they regained the lead courtesy of an exceptional try by full back Ronan O’Mahony, who was sent clear by a long pass from centre Niall Kenneally, with earlier assists from Stander and Dave O’Callaghan. Holland converted from the touchline to make it 13-6.
But then the contest went off the boil, mistakes on both sides mounting to the point of frustration for the 2000 fans.
Munster stretched the lead to 10 with Holland’s fourth successful kick at goal two minutes into the second-half but they relinquished it again when conceding a penalty to substitute Declan Cusack.
Munster should have scored a second try on 58 minutes but Darren Sweetnam was unable to hold a wayward last pass and lost control of possession on the line. That left Plymouth in with a shout of drawing level before prop forward Lloyd Fairbrother was sin binned and Munster took control again, finishing with that late try and conversion.
MUNSTER A:: R O’Mahony; A Wootton, C Bohane, N Kenneally, D Sweetnam; J Holland, G Hurley; A Cotter, N Scannell (capt), J Ryan; I Nagle, B Holland; D O’Callaghan, B O’Mahony, CJ Stander.
Replacements: B Scott for Cotter (half time), D. Goggin for Kenneally (75), S Buckley for O’Callaghan (75), B Haugh for Hurley (79)
PLYMOUTH ALBION: B Woods; L Warner, H Stevens, P Nonu, J Davies; D Mugford, R Cushion; T Harrison, M Crumpton, L Fairbrother; D Williams, R Oakley (captain); R Graham, H Supple, S Matavesi.
Replacements: D Cusack for Mugford (37, injured), T Howley-Berridge for Nonu (47), B Rogers for Harrison, C Elder for Warner, (both 58), R Langley for Williams (60), D Morton for Davis (77)
REFEREE: C Evans (Wales)
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