Saturday 18 November 2017

De Villiers leads Red backlash

Munster completed a Magners League double over the Llanelli Scarlets at Musgrave Park last night to stay in contention for the play-offs.

A backlash from the disappointment of Newport 12 days ago was always likely and Tony McGahan's men responded with a much more disciplined performance against the lowly Welsh outfit.

The reigning champions weren't quite at their best, but were clinical enough when they needed to be and tries by James Coughlan and Jean de Villiers, combined with 13 points by Paul Warwick, eventually proved enough to see them home.

The opening exchanges were slightly chaotic and the large home crowd fell into a hushed silence after just two minutes when Welsh international out-half Rhys Priestland blocked down a loose kick by Warwick and ran in from 80 metres.

From the restart, Munster gathered the ball and worked an opening for de Villiers to barge home from close range. Warwick added the conversion to leave the score 7-5 after just five minutes. Frenetic stuff.

The remaining 35 minutes of the half didn't quite live up to the excitement of the opening five, but they weren't short on incident either.

Munster were lucky to escape when Warwick had another kick blocked down by Priestland, but fortunately they had enough bodies in the way.

De Villiers, meanwhile, was a constant thorn in the Scarlets defence and repeatedly broke the gain line with relative ease.

Warwick and Priestland traded penalties and Deacon Manu put his side in trouble when he was yellow-carded for an early tackle on Nick Williams.

Munster took full advantage of the extra man and Coughlan went over for a converted try to send them into the break leading 17-8.

The second half continued in much the same vein as the first. Warwick scored two more penalties for Munster, while Priestland kept the Scarlets in touch with a couple of decent kicks.

The prospect of a further try seemed remote for long spells as Munster generally kicked for the corners to keep the Scarlets pinned back in their own half.

Priestland did manage another penalty late on to secure the losing bonus point for his side, while Munster were made to sweat slightly when Tommy O'Donnell was sent to the bin for the final few minutes.

Munster -- S Deasy; D Howlett (D Hurley 53), T Gleeson, J de Villiers, I Dowling; P Warwick, P Stringer(D Williams 65)(J Manning 75); M Horan, D Varley (D Fogarty 60),J Brugnaut (D Ryan 60); B Holland, M O'Driscoll; N Williams (A Quinlan 65), N Ronan (T O'Donnell 72), J Coughlan.

Scarlets -- D Newton (D Evans 53); J Ajuwa, R King (D Evans 67), J Davies, A Fenby; R Priestland, T Knoyle (M Roberts 70); I Thomas, K Owens (P John 70), D Manu; L Reed, D Day (E Phillips 67); JTurnbull (P John 40-50), R Pugh (R McCusker 61), D Lyons.

REF -- Neil Paterson (SRU)

Irish Independent

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