Munster 52 Worcester Warriors 21: It certainly wasn’t a happy return to Cork for former Munster and Ireland hero Donncha O’Callaghan as Munster stormed to a comprehensive pre- season win over Worcester Warriors at Musgrave Park last night.
Out for months with injury, the night probably belonged to New Zealander Tyler Bleyendaal who had a huge part to play in the win, especially in Munster’s fourth try after 36 minutes to help his side into a 31-0 lead at the break.
O’Callaghan tried hard before he was replaced after 48 minutes, but there was no denying Munster who were in control throughout, even though both teams were vastly different at the end after a raft of changes.
Bleyendaal got a rousing reception too when he left after 52 minutes as Munster went in search of further scores. They got one quickly when Ronan O’Mahony was sent in for try number five by Duncan Williams and sub Ian Keatley added the conversion for a 38-0 lead.
It was a difficult game to assess. Munster played well, but one would wonder about the quality of their Aviva Premiership opponents who only threatened for the first time in the 59th minute when they were rewarded with a Josh Adams corner flag try converted by Ryan Lamb.
However, Munster struck back again and Cian Bohane was sent in for a try by Conor Oliver with Keatley tacking on the extra points to push the score out to 45-7 before Worcester skipper CJ van Velze grabbed his side’s second try and Lamb converted via an upright.
But Munster were not to be denied, and they struck back with a Keatley try after he intercepted inside his own ’22 and the conversion brought the home total to 52 before reserve Perry Humphreys grabbed another consolation score, converted by Lamb, right on full time.
Coaching director Rassie Erasmus was pleased with the win and the manner in which it was achieved. “It was a step up from last week”, he said, “the attack was good, last week we could have blamed the weather but we didn’t and tonight we were happy with the attack for sure. “
In the first-half, Munster struck first and early. Tyler Bleyendaal chipped for the corner, Munster won the line out against the throw, and after Niall Scannell was held up his front row partner James Cronin was on hand to nab the try that the out half converted before adding a 14th minute penalty for a 10-0 lead.
Worcester fell further behind after 25 minutes when Munster were awarded a penalty try following the third powerful scrum near the line. The visitors had been affected by the loss of Val Rapava Ruskin, their loose head prop, to a yellow card and Munster made their 8-7 advantage count, even though Na’ama Leleimalefaga had slotted into the front row.
Munster went 24-0 in front on the 31st minute, Bleyendaal setting up Simon Zebo for a score the out half converted. This duo also helped Munster power further ahead with the out half’s delicate chip fastened onto by Zebo. After that, Rory Scannell and Dan Goggin were involved before Darren Sweetnam was sent in for a try Bleyendaal converted.
All in all, a comprehensive win for Munster and, as O’Callaghan admitted, a disappointing display from his new side.
S Zebo; D Sweetnam, D Goggin, R Scannell, R O’Mahony; T Bleyendaal, D Williams; J Cronin, N Scannell, J Ryan; J Kleyn, B Holland (captain)., D O’Callaghan, T O’Donnell, J O’Donoghue.
D Casey, P McCabe, J Andress, B Scott, D O’Shea, D Foley, C Oliver, R Copeland, T O’Leary, I Keatley, A Wootton, C Bohane, C O’Shea, S Fitzgerald.
J Willison, D Hammond, W Olivier, M Stelling, C Vuna, T Heathcote, J Arr, V Rapava Ruskin, N Annett, J Johnston, D O’Callaghan, D Barry, A Faosiliva, C Kirwan, GJ Van Vedlze.
Replacements. J Bregvadze, N Leleimalefaga, M Daniels, T Cavubati, P Dowson, L Baldwin, R Lamb, P Humphreys, C Scotland-williamson, M Mama, J Shillcock, J Adams.
Referee. D Jones (Wales)
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved