Joey Carbery shines and Danny Cipriani sees red as Munster emerge victorious from forgettable encounter
Munster 36 Gloucester 22
NO miracles required in Thomond Park.
Apart from the fact it took Munster the guts of an hour to finally secure the expected bonus point against the hapless West Country men.
Playing with the benefit of an extra man for an hour of the contest, Munster's early struggles belied their mid-match flourish.
And that flourish itself betrayed a sloppy ending when they coughed up three tries after the bonus point win had been secured in the 56th minute.
Dan Goggin and Tommy O'Donnell were the chief injury casualties, departing with what appeared like serious enough injuries.
Less serious casualties were those who had expected a contest but got a poor imitation of top-class European rugby.
Danny Cipriaini has spent a decade and more hogging the headlines for misdemeanours off the pitch rather than any heights he manages to reach on it.
Here he managed the quite formidable both of achieving both at the same time – sadly for him his most notable shot was deemed an illegal one on Munster play-maker Joey Carbery after half an hour.
Cipriani was probably thinking twice about making a tackle – habit of a lifetime, perhaps – and his tackling colleague didn't help the situation either.
French whistler Alexandre Ruiz had no option but to send him off given the draconian new decrees which have been ushered into the sport by World Rugby after years of ignoring concussion.
Well, he did have an option, as it happened, for he ignored another dangerous tackle on Carbery by Billy Twelvetrees, dished out a yellow card to Tom Savage for a reckless ruck entry and completely ignored another.
The referee might have used his discretion; perhaps judging that the match had been a bit of a pig so far and it may, just may, have been aided by keeping one of its best footballers on the field.
But referees are not allowed to use discretion any more; neither, it seems, are they and their officials able to consistently apply the new laws.
Cipriani's dismissal didn't affect the result; Munster would have got there one way or another, notwithstanding an opening quarter of stunning incompetence from both sides.
Overthrown lineouts, scrum implosions, hapless knock-ons, missed tackles, poor kicking.the opening quarter was a smorgasbord of cock-ups.
Munster led 8-3 once Carbery kicked the penalty resulting from Cipriani's dismissal.
The ex-Leinster out-half had already been influential in carving the game's opening score after 22 minutes.
After finally eking out some territory and correcting their set-piece mis-haps, Munster exploited the 16th minute binning of Tom Savage, Mike Haley finishing in the corner as the home side exploited the extra man with ease.
Cipriani had knocked over a penalty from a decent range moments later, after Peter O'Mahony was incorrectly pinged at a ruck, to make it 5-3 and at this stage the sides were only separated by their inadequacies.
Munster were stepping up in tempo and execution by the time Cipriani was handed his cards – or card.
A sweetly executed maul five minutes before half-time, from which Rhys Marshall emerged with the pill after his side rumbled over the line, stretched the lead to 15-3 at the break.
From then on it was merely a matter of accountancy.
The opening ten minutes of the second-half rivalled its opening counterpart for boredom but Carbery eventually jolted life into proceedings, as did the arrival of his new scrum-half partner Alby Mathewson.
After Munster's dominant scrum took hold, Mathewson's bullet pass to Dan Goggin gave the centre enough time and space to find Carbery, who danced over the line.
Five minutes later, Sam Arnold confirmed the bonus point, Mathewson's passing ability once more allowing enough comfort for Carbery to pick and choose his moment of delivery.
That was the game won and Munster not only took their foot off the pedal but slipped out of the driver's seat altogether.
Their former favourite, Gerbrandt Grobler, scored a consolation. Jason Woodward scored another.
Andrew Conway tacked another one on the board for Munster who were giving away a penalty a minute.
That Ben Morgan scored a third consolation reflected the tenor of an oddly surreal game, devoid of real passion, intensity or quality.
It seemed everyone had lost interest.
The key thing was that Munster and their supporters bagged the five points they had come for. It took them nearly two hours to do it. Days like these might not always be remembered but they always matter.
Munster: M Haley (JJ Hanrahan 68); A Conway, D Goggin, R Scannell (S Arnold 48), D Sweetnam; J Carbery, D Williams (A Mathewson 48); J Cronin (D Kilcoyne 48), R Marshall (K O'Byrne HT), J Ryan (S Archer 59); J Kleyn (B Holland 61), T Beirne; P O’Mahony (capt), T O’Donnell (A Botha 38), CJ Stander. Gloucester: J Woodward; M Banahan, B Twelvetrees, M Atkinson (O Williams 63), T Marshall (T Hudson 45); D Cipriani, C Braley (B Vellacott 53); V Rapava Ruskin (C Knight 65), F Marais (C Knight 20), J Hohneck; T Savage, E Slater capt (G Grobler 54); F Clarke (G Evans 61), J Polledri, B Morgan.
Referee: A Ruiz (France)