Murphy puts his hand up for Reds
Munster worked out a few more kinks last night as they recorded their first win of the pre-season against Gloucester in Cork.
Alan Quinlan and Wian du Preez scored tries in a highly efficient showing against a full-strength Gloucester side, for whom out-half Tim Taylor scored all their points.
A number of players were looking to stake a claim ahead of next week's Magners League opener against Italian newcomers Aironi, and several caught the eye with good performances.
Tony Buckley continued where he left off on Ireland's summer tour with a dominant display in the scrum and a typically exuberant showing in the loose.
Damien Varley was very assured in the set-piece, and Denis Leamy got through another 70 minutes without any ill-effects as he returns after injury.
In the backs, new signings Johne Murphy and Sam Tuitupou combined effectively in the centres.
It's likely that Murphy will be used more in the back three this season, but the awareness he showed in tight spaces makes him an interesting option at No 13. He broke the line on more than one occasion, and his ability to keep the ball alive enabled Munster to play a high-tempo game in attack.
Gloucester also tried to play attacking rugby throughout and looked particularly bright in the early stages, but were kept at bay by a strong Munster defence -- Anthony Foley's influence as specialist defence coach already looks to be paying dividends.
Paul Warwick had another solid game at out-half, though he spurned a good opportunity to give his side the lead on 10 minutes, pulling an easy penalty to the left of the posts.
The deadlock was eventually broken shortly after, Warwick making amends with another penalty from a more central position. The lead was short-lived, though, as Gloucester hit back with a brilliant individual try from Taylor, who gathered his own grubber kick to score under the posts.
Taylor's conversion made it 7-3 to the visitors midway through the first half.
Munster responded well, and their pressure was rewarded with a try five minutes from half-time.
Tommy O'Donnell collected a five-metre line-out and Du Preez eventually found space to touch down after a well-worked drive. Warwick converted from the touchline and the home side led 10-7 at the break.
Munster tore out of the blocks in the second half and scored their second try through Quinlan, the result of yet another five-metre catch and drive.
As so often happens in friendlies, a raft of substitutions disrupted the flow of the game and the remainder of the second half became quite fractious.
Munster's play became ragged and Taylor reduced the deficit with another penalty. Felix Jones -- who had a quiet night by his standards -- almost put the game to bed with a brilliant break minutes from time, but was held up just short of the line.
The drama continued down the other end, and Jones then pulled off an incredible tackle in the last phase of the game to deny Gloucester and secure victory for Munster.
Tony McGahan's men open their Magners League account next Saturday night against Aironi. Kick-off is at 7.30 and tickets are on sale online and at the usual outlets.
Munster: -- F Jones; D Howlett (S Zebo 63); J Murphy, S Tuitupou (S Deasy 57), I Dowling (D Barnes 72); P Warwick (I Dineen 72), P Stringer (D Williams 50); W du Preez (D Ryan 63), D Varley (D Fogarty 40), T Buckley (S Archer 54); I Nagle (M O'Driscoll 50), D Ryan; A Quinlan (B Holland 54), T O'Donnell (N Ronan 45), D Leamy (P O'Mahony 69)
Gloucester -- O Morgan (C Sharples 66); J Simpson-Daniel (J May 66), T Molenaar, E Fuimaono-Sapolu (H Trinder 55), T Voyce; T Taylor, R Lawson (J Pasqualin 57); A Dickinson (Y Thomas 61), S Lawson (D Dawidiuk 53), P Capdevielle (R Harden 61); W James, Alex Brown (D Attwood 40); A Strokosch (P Buxton 45), A Hazell (M Cox 66) , L Narraway (B Deacon 50).