Sunday 22 October 2017

Munster eke out win in Edinburgh without their Ireland stars to move to Pro12 summit

Munster moved to the summit of the Guinness PRO12 table after squeezing past Edinburgh in a scrappy affair at Myreside.

Ronan O'Mahony scored the game's only try, Tyler Bleyendaal adding the conversion and a penalty while the hosts relied on the boot of stand-off Jason Tovey, who landed three penalties.

Blair Kinghorn had a difficult last-gasp chance to send the 5,235 crowd home happy but his penalty attempt from his own half fell just short.

The victory enabled the Irish outfit to overhaul erstwhile pace-setters Ospreys and assume the top berth. They have a single-point advantage over their Welsh rivals, with both sides now having played 13 matches.

The losing bonus point enabled Edinburgh to move up one spot in the table, displacing Newport Gwent Dragons in ninth by virtue of a superior points difference.

The hosts delivered a disappointing showing at their new home but could take some consolation from a typically dynamic performance by international flanker John Hardie, who demonstrated that he has made a full recovery from injury before being replaced after 65 minutes.

The visitors, with 11 changes from the side that faced Racing 92 in the European Champions Cup two weeks earlier, looked lively in the opening minutes but failed to breach a solid home defence.

The first attack by Edinburgh came in the fourth minute when the ball was spun wide to Damien Hoyland, whose chip and chase yielded a scrum on the edge of the Munster 22 and eventually a penalty which Tovey drilled between the sticks to open the scoring.

Munster survived another Edinburgh attack before launching a counter when O'Mahony hacked ahead but was pipped in a race for the line.

An offence at the ensuing scrum handed the visitors a penalty. They opted again for the scrum and, after a series of unsuccessful pick-and-gos, moved the ball along the line for O'Mahony to dive over. Bleyendaal, who had supplied the scoring pass, added the conversion.

Edinburgh trimmed the deficit to a single point with 24 minutes on the clock when Duncan Williams kicked the ball out of Sean Kennedy's hands at the breakdown - earning himself a yellow card and presenting Tovey with a straightforward kick to add three points to the home tally.

Six minutes before the interval, the hosts regained the lead when Tovey banged over another penalty after a scrum offence.

And although Munster ended the half strongly, they were unable to break down a solid Edinburgh defence, allowing the Scottish side to go into the break with a two-point cushion.

Edinburgh withstood a solid restart by the visitors and enjoyed a spell in the ascendancy. That too proved fruitless and, although both sides had plenty of possession, neither crafted scoring opportunities and the scoreline remained unchanged as the clock ticked past the hour mark.

The first points of the second half came in the 67th minute when Edinburgh were penalised in front of their posts for handling in a ruck and Bleyendaal's kick edged Munster ahead once more.

Edinburgh rung the changes in a desperate attempt to rescue the win and they earned a penalty just inside their own half way with the final play of the match. Kinghorn lined up the shot at goal but just could not find the power.

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