Flawless Carbery the star of the show as Munster reclaim control of Champions Cup pool with impressive win
Gloucester 15 Munster 41
This was an old school performance from Munster and fans will be dreaming big after seeing their team win so impressively on the road.
A no frills approach to the first-half at Kingsholm reaped big reward as the men in aquamarine kept their heads well above water at the top of of Pool Two and edged closer to a third quarter-final in a row.
They await the result of tomorrow’s Exeter Chiefs v Castres clash to know exactly where they stand, but this morning they wake up eight points clear of the French champions and nine above the English side who visit Thomond Park next Saturday. They might be without Peter O'Mahony who suffered a rib injury, but a losing bonus may well be enough.
As those outside the camp debate the strengths of the Reds’ attacking game, Johann van Graan and his coaches honed in on how their side’s strengths could exploit Gloucester's deficiencies.
Conor Murray peppered the back three with box-kicks they couldn’t handle and the front-row turned the screw at scrum time. Having been bullied in Castres, Munster laid down a succession of physical markers with CJ Stander, Chris Farrell and Tadhg Beirne outstanding
And behind the dominant pack, man of the match Joey Carbery was superb; scoring two tries and kicking all seven of his shots at goal to finish with 26 points.
They overwhelmed a Gloucester side who struggled to get a foot-hold in front of a sell-out crowd.
They responded to the packed house by coming fast out of the traps with Gerbrandt Grobler winning the kick-off brilliantly, but the visiting side set the tone by repelling the early pressure.
Both sides fluffed their lines in attacking positions as a game took on a helter-skelter pattern. Billy Twelvetrees opened the scoring from long range, but Munster got a foot-hold through their kicking game as Gloucester struggled under the high ball.
Carbery levelled matters after a long series of phases in the Gloucester ’22 and it was the out-half who crossed for the all-important first try as the Munster scrum eked out a penalty to put the team in position and, after CJ Stander surged up the middle and followed it up with a couple of hard carries with the help of Chris Farrell, Carbery picked his way through the broken Gloucester line and then converted his own score.
He then sent over a tough kick to extend the lead after Beirne won a superb breakdown penalty, while O’Mahony’s competitiveness at the lineout ruined another good attacking position for the hosts who were growing frustrated with their inability to hold on to the ball and their issues in the scrum.
Carbery got another chance to kick for territory after a third scrum penalty. Mark Atkinson snuffed out the danger this time around by rushing up and intercepting Murray’s pass.
But they couldn’t survive the final onslaught before half-time as Tom Hudson failed to deal with Murray’s box-kick and Munster attacked from the scrum. Again Stander, Beirne and Farrell were prominent as van Graan’s men patiently kept the ball for four minutes through 27 phases before Rory Scannell bounced Charlie Sharples’ attempted tackle and scored his side’s second try.
Carbery converted to make it 20-3 at the interval, but he under hit his kick-off put his team on the back-foot after half-time and, after conceding four penalties and losing O’Mahony to injury, they endured an epic defensive set on their line for 35 phases until the dam finally broke and Ollie Thorley skipped around Conway to score in the corner.
Twelvetrees’ conversion hit the post and within a matter of minutes Munster struck back, with Stander again carrying hard off the scrum before Billy Holland deftly shifted the ball to Keith Earls who burrowed over.
Carbery nailed the tounchline conversion and Munster had 23 minutes to get the fourth.
Andrew Conway thought he'd got it within two, only for the score to be chalked off for a Farrell knock-on.
Instead, Gloucester hit back through Fraser Balmain who forced his way over from close range and Twelvetrees made it a 12-point game.
But Munster got the deserved bonus point as Carbery sent a sensational left-footed chip in behind for Conway who wouldn't be denied a second time.
The out-half converted and then raced in from long range after intercepting Ben Morgan's pass and he added the extras for good measure.
With the result secure, van Graan withdrew as many front-liners as possible ahead of next week's finale. They're well set to finish the job after their most impressive away performance in a while.
Gloucester – T Hudson; C Sharples, B Twelvetrees (H Trinder 71), M Atkinson, O Thorley; D Cipriani (O Williams 69), C Braley (B Vellacottt 69); J Hohneck (A Seville 71), H Walker (F Marais 71), F Balmain; E Slater, G Grobler (F Clarke 58); F Mostert, L Ludlow, B Morgan (G Evans 71).
Munster – M Haley; A Conway, C Farrell (D Goggin 69), R Scannell, K Earls; J Carbery (T Bleyendaal 72), C Murray (A Mathewson 69); D Kilcoyne (J Loughman 60), N Scannell (R Marshall 69), S Archer (J Ryan 58); J Kleyn, T Beirne; P O’Mahony (capt) (B Holland 46), T O’Donnell (A Botha 58), CJ Stander.
Ref – R Poite (France)