Cornish pasting for Foley's Reds
Cornish Pirates 23
Munster 'A' 14
Munster 'A' coach Anthony Foley was left to rue what he called his side's "worst 40 minutes of the season" as the Cornish Pirates dashed their hopes of landing the British and Irish Cup in South West England yesterday.
Two tries in the opening half effectively sealed the game for the Championship side who became the first team to lift the sparkling new cup.
"We coughed up far too many penalties," said a despondent Foley after the game, "and never played the game that we wanted to play.
"We allowed the Pirates to dictate the terms of the first half, and never put them under enough pressure in their own half.
The two tries we conceded were terribly soft, and we should have done a lot better.
"We played better in the second half, we fought back well and scored a nice try.
Had that score come 20 minutes earlier, who knows what might have happened, but ultimately we were beaten by the better side on the day."
Foley's men started the game well, but fell behind against the run of play when Steve Winn found a gap in the visiting defence to touch down for the opening try, which was converted by John Bentley.
Munster responded well, and enjoyed plenty of joy in the line-out where Dave Foley, Ian Nagle and Mike Sherry were all superb.
Declan Cusack knocked over a couple of penalties to keep them in touch, but they suffered a heavy blow just before the break when Rhodri McAtee found space in the corner to score the Pirates' second try.
Bentley once more converted and then added another penalty on the stroke of half-time to send the home side into the break leading 20-6.
Cusack knocked over another penalty just after the restart, but Munster spent much of the second half on the back foot. They failed to generate any amount of quick ball and were forced to defend for long periods.
Bentley nailed another penalty on the hour mark to once more put daylight between the sides.
It wasn't until the final quarter than Munster eventually began to ask some questions of the home defence.
Jeremy Manning began to exert some influence in midfield and full-back Sean Scanlon looked threatening on the counter attack.
Captain Peter O'Mahony began to get his hands on the ball more often, but each time the Munster ball carrier was hit by a white wall of defence, and try-scoring opportunities were few and far between.
Even the ultra-reliable Munster lineout began to stutter as the half wore on, though replacement second-rower Dave O'Callaghan made a big impact in the loose.
Danny Barnes eventually touched down for a Munster try deep into injury-time, but it was too little, too late.
Despite the defeat, team manager Mick Galwey was optimistic of better days for his young cohorts.
"They remind me of ourselves when we first set out on our Heineken Cup journey ten years ago," he said.
"Of course it's not easy to lose a final, but they'll bounce back. That's all part of being a rugby player."
Cornish Pirates -- W Davies; R McAtee, M Ireland, S Winn, N Jackson; J Bentley, G Cattle (capt, J Doherty 75); C Rimmer (P Andrew 61), R Elloway (S Betty 58), A Paver; L McGlone (M Myercough 52), B Gulliver; C Morgan, D Ward, B Cowan (R Storer 75).
Munster -- S Scanlon; D Barnes, T Gleeson, J Manning, S Zebo (M Lawlor 75); D Cusack (R O'Mahony 63), D Williams (C Murray 63); D Kilcoyne (D Ryan 41), M Sherry, S Archer; D Foley, I Nagle (D O'Callaghan 61); B Holland, T O'Donnell (P Butler 61), P O'Mahony (capt).