Sunday 21 January 2018

Penney backs No 10 duo to make step up

Munster 28 Gloucester 17

Munster's Andrew Conway is tackled by Andy Hazell of Cloucester
Munster's Andrew Conway is tackled by Andy Hazell of Cloucester

Declan Rooney

Munster coach Rob Penney believes his men are ready to hit the ground running when the RaboDirect Pro12 kicks off on Saturday week after watching his side brush aside Gloucester in their first pre-season game.

The only negative point from Saturday's clash at Thomond Park was an injury picked up by Andrew Conway but Penney expects the former Leinster winger to recover from a dead leg in the next three weeks.

Conway crowned his Munster debut with a try before limping off but the injury is not as serious as first feared.

"He could have scored two, that's why we got him here," said Penney. I had a chat to him and he was reasonably mobile without too much distress. But those things can be a week – or they can be three weeks."

The home side ran in four well-worked tries in horrible conditions, with Denis Hurley, JJ Hanrahan and CJ Stander all getting off the mark.

Penney admitted that Ian Keatley leads the race to replace Ronan O'Gara, but he would have been thrilled with the performance of Hanrahan, one of 18 replacements to get a run.

"We knew he (Keatley) has a lot of potential and it's great that he was able to show that. We are very pleased with him and JJ. They are two young No 10s with big shoes to fill. But they don't want to be wallowing in the shadows, they have to step out in the sunlight and make it their own now.

"I don't know if we could have asked for much more," he said. "Given the new scrum laws, that was our first time dealing with those."

Despite Munster's dominance, it was Gloucester that scored first when Jimmy Cowan touched down.

Conway hit back after fielding a terrific cross-kick from Keatley, before Hurley rounded off a well-oiled scrum move to give Munster a 14-5 lead at half-time. Steph Reynolds bagged the visitors' second try three minutes into the second half, but Hanrahan swerved over for Munster's third before Stander rounded off the scoring before the end of the third quarter. Koree Britton touched down for Gloucester late on, but an 11-point win was the least Munster deserved.

Munster – D Hurley; A Conway, C Laulala, I Dineen, J Murphy; I Keatley, D Williams; J Cronin, M Sherry, J Ryan; Donncha O'Callaghan, B Holland; CJ Stander, N Ronan, J Coughlan. Replacements used: R O'Mahony, D Casey, P Ryan, D Foley, C Sheridan, C Bohane I Nagle, JJ Hanrahan, S Buckley, CJ Stander, B O'Mahony, J Holland, S Archer, A Cotter, D Kenny, W Ryan, M Kelleher, N Kenneally, N Scannell.

Gloucester – S Reynolds; C Sharples, T Molenaar, R Mills, J Simpson-Daniel; J Bentley, J Cowan; D Murphy, D George, Y Thomas; E Stooke, W James; M Cox, A Hazell, G Evans.

Replacements used: K Britton, M Tindall, L Lokotui, D Robson, S Kalamafoni, T Savage, R Harden, J Gibbons, B Burns, D Cheshire.

Ref – A Rolland (IRFU)

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