Tuesday 20 March 2018

Munster off to flier with classy show

Munster’s JJ Hanrahan
Munster’s JJ Hanrahan

Munster 34 Edinburgh 23 DECLAN ROONEY

Munster turned on the style to get their Pro12 campaign off to a flying start at Musgrave Park, with a five-try triumph over Edinburgh.

Tries from Denis Hurley, James Cronin and James Coughlan in the first half set Rob Penney's side on their way and Ivan Dineen crossed in the third quarter to dampen Edinburgh's enthusiasm.

Munster looked bright and inventive from the off and were full value for their excellent victory, with second-half Nick de Luca and Lee Jones tries the only blot on their copybook.

Piers Francis opened the scoring for Edinburgh with a 10th-minute penalty, but even by that stage Munster looked the safer bet.

Francis made no mistake with his kick from the right, but three minutes later Munster had the lead their play deserved when Hurley was given the nod by the TMO after the home side cashed in on good carries from Cronin and James Coughlan.

Keatley missed the difficult conversion from the touchline, but he had another chance in the 16th minute when Coughlan grabbed Munster's second try. The team captain was somewhat fortunate that Johne Murphy's grubber kick landed into his hands via Ronan O'Mahony's heel, but Murphy's vision alone meant the try was well deserved.

Second time round Keatley split the posts from the other touchline and he added a penalty in the 21st minute to give Munster a 15-3 lead.

Francis cut Edinburgh's deficit to nine points in the 25th minute with his second penalty after Mike Sherry was penalised at the breakdown, but their cause was not helped by a yellow card for winger Lee Jones following a tackle on Coughlan in the 28th minute and eight minutes from the break Munster made their numerical advantage pay.

This time it was Cronin who crashed over to crown his first Munster start on his home club ground. Again Munster needed the TMO's assistance, but the try was awarded despite Francis' best efforts.

Keatley added the extras with ease to give Munster a 22-6 lead at half-time and after a couple of quick replacements Edinburgh began to gain a foothold in the action.

Ten minutes into the second half their efforts were rewarded when De Luca broke through a Coughlan tackle to touch down under the posts, with Francis' conversion pegging Munster back to nine points once more.

Suddenly, despite all of their possession and territorial domination, Munster had still to quench any hopes of an Edinburgh comeback.

But the Musgrave Park crowd didn't have long to chew their fingernails as less than three minutes later they had sealed the bonus point when Cronin and Coughlan combined to beat the door down for Ivan Dineen to score in the left corner.

JJ Hanrahan touched down late on for his third try in his last three outings for Munster, but that was negated eight minutes from time by Jones' try down the left wing. Munster, however, held on.

Scorers – Munster: D Hurley, J Coughlan, J Cronin, I Dineen, JJ Hanrahan try each; I Keatley 2 cons, pen JJ Hanrahan con. Edinburgh: N de Luca, L Jones try each; P Francis 2 pens, con;, H Leonard pen, con

Munster: D Hurley; R O'Mahony (C Bohane 71), C Laulala, I Dineen, J Murphy; I Keatley (JJ Hanrahan 64), D Williams (C Sheridan 55); J Cronin (D Kilcoyne 61), M Sherry (D Varley 61), S Archer (J Ryan 61); D Foley, Donncha O'Callaghan (B Holland 55); Dave O'Callaghan (T O'Donnell 55), S Dougall, J Coughlan.

Edinburgh: G Tonks; D Fife, N De Luca, B Atiga (J Cuthbert 46), L Jones; P Francis (H Leonard 59), S Kennedy (S Hidalgo-Clyne 71); A Dickinson (L Niven 6 blood), R Ford, WP Nel; G Gilchrist, I van der Westhuizen (H Watson 49); S Cox, R Grant, D Denton

Referee: M Mitrea (Romania)

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