Murphy proves worth on return
Munster 27 Scarlets 26
Tony McGahan paid tribute to Barry Murphy last night after the Limerick man scored on his comeback to inspire Munster to victory over Llanelli.
Murphy hadn't started a game in red for over a year, but looked much like his old self in Cork yesterday evening as he danced his way over the try-line to see Munster home.
Paul Warwick and Sam Tuitupou were also amongst the scorers, but it was Murphy's try which drew the loudest cheer from the home fans.
"Everyone is just delighted that Barry is back playing," said McGahan. "He's been out for a very long time and he's been dying to get back in and show his wares. Tonight was wonderful for him in the way he took his try, showing great pace off a great line."
Llanelli captain Jonathan Edwards scored two tries for the visitors whilst Rhys Priestland amassed 16 points with the boot, but it was not enough to stop them falling to a 10th straight defeat against McGahan's men.
Five days on from their epic performance against the Australians in Limerick, Munster struggled with fatigue at times in the second half but held on for a well-deserved victory.
McGahan had to reshuffle his starting XV shortly before kick-off when Damien Varley (shoulder), Alan Quinlan (hamstring) and Johne Murphy (knee) were all forced out due to injury concerns.
In came Peter O'Mahony, Mike Sherry and Scott Deasy, who all made significant impacts over the course of the game, as did Conor Murray, a first-half replacement for scrum-half Duncan Williams.
Elsewhere, James Coughlan was once again outstanding whilst Peter Borlase looked much more comfortable in his second outing of the week.
All the while, Warwick kept the scoreboard ticking over and his 17-point personal tally was every bit as impressive as his 15-point haul against the Wallabies.
The first half was a tight affair with Warwick and Priestland both converting two penalties apiece before the game burst into life. A turn of pace by Coughlan in midfield saw him race clear of the home defence and when the ball recycled he was on hand to put Warwick under the posts for the opening try.
Warwick converted but the Scarlets hit back immediately through Thomas to leave the scores tied 13-13 going into the break.
Munster started the second half slowly and were reduced to 14 men when O'Mahony was sin-binned for pulling down the maul, with Priestland nudging the Scarlets back ahead with the resulting penalty.
But Munster played their best rugby of the night when down a man, scoring two tries during a frenetic 10-minute spell.
Tuitupou scored first with a characteristic burst taking him through the first line of defence and away over the whitewash. And then came Murphy, a trademark run back on the angle and balletic swerve around the last man.
Warwick then converted both to leave Munster ahead 27-16; however, a lack of concentration allowed Edwards in for his second try on 60 minutes.
Priestland converted and then added another penalty to leave the Scarlets trailing by just a point as the game entered the last 10 minutes, but some outstanding tackling by Deasy, Tuitupou and Denis Hurley enabled Munster to hold out for the win, taking them seven points clear at the top of the table.
Munster -- S Deasy (T Gleeson 78); D Howlett, B Murphy, S Tuitupou, D Hurley; P Warwick, D Williams (C Murray 22); W du Preez (D Ryan 70), M Sherry (S Henry 78), P Borlase (S Archer 78) ; B Holland, I Nagle; P O'Mahony (T O'Donnell 60), N Ronan, J Coughlan.
Scarlets -- D Evans; M Stoddart, G Maule, R King, L Williams (N Reynolds 17); R Priestland (D Newton 79), M Roberts (T Knoyle 64); I Thomas, K Owens (E Phillips 64), P Edwards (P John 54); L Reed, D Day (D Welch 64); A Shingler (J Fa'amatuainu 54), J Edwards, B Morgan.
REF -- J Jones (Wales)