Friday 20 April 2018

Penney thrilled after patience proves to be a virtue for resolute Munster

Munster 16 Scarlets 10

Ronan O'Mahony goes over for Munster’s try
Ronan O'Mahony goes over for Munster’s try
Ronan O'Mahony is congratulated by his brother and team-mate Barry

Declan Rooney

Rob Penney said his heart "blew up" after Munster's last-gasp Heineken Cup win nine days ago, so another late, late show on Saturday will not have done his nerves any good.

In the end, a pair of late sin-binnings cost Scarlets dearly as they ran out of defenders in the final act, as JJ Hanrahan picked out Ronan O'Mahony with a cross-field kick for the try that clinched the win.

And after their Perpignan heroics, Penney thought there was always a chance his side would repeat the comeback.

"I thought if we can build some pressure there's always a chance and we hadn't been able to effectively do it during the game for a number of reasons," he said.

"When we got into that formation we were using in the last couple of minutes after the last scrum we had, we were able to build some pressure.

"JJ attempted to get into position for a drop goal but that wasn't able to be utilised given the pressure that Scarlets were putting on. But if you're patient and you maintain the ball and you do the basic things well, all of a sudden a little hole opens."

But the win has come at a cost, with BJ Botha limping off with a right knee injury, while concussion protocols will be followed for Dave O'Callaghan, Duncan Casey and Tommy O'Donnell ahead of Friday's derby with Connacht.

Casey's first Munster start lasted barely 30 minutes before he had to be replaced by another debutant Niall Scannell. Both young hookers were terrific though: Casey hit six line-outs from six, Scannell didn't miss a target either and both were heavily involved in the loose. Penney was thrilled with his two No 2s.

"Credit to the boys, they hung in there and Niall Scannell threw really well and played really well for a first run-on performance for the young fella," he said.

"Niall would be our number four hooker if you like and for him to come on so early and do such a sterling job, it was a great effort from the young fella and difficult day to do it on."

And after a forgettable first half where Aled Thomas' early penalty left the sides level 3-3 at the break, Scarlets suddenly capitalised on slack Munster defence and scored an excellent try from deep, which Kristian Phillips conjured and John Barclay ran in under the posts.

Two JJ Hanrahan penalties had trimmed that lead back to 10-9 by the closing stages, but with a two-man disadvantage and after five minutes of incessant pressure it was only a matter of time until Scarlets ran out of numbers.

Both Rob Evans and Mike Poole -- for a dangerous tip tackle -- were the recipients of the yellow cards in the 74th and 76th minutes respectively, but Simon Easterby seemed more irked by the manner in which referee Nigel Davies and his TMO awarded the winning score deep into added time. "It is not the cross-field kick that we were considering to be an offence, it was the knock-on at the base of the ruck," Easterby said. "And the touch judge called it in to the referee and still we didn't see a clear picture of it when we went back to the footage."

Penney said he saw nothing wrong with the winning score, but he conceded his side were outclassed for long periods.

"They dominated us at times, they've got some firepower there and some good boys. They defended tenaciously as they do and Simon might be a bit disappointed about the last ruling, but we could debate long and hard about a lot of the activity that was happening at ruck time.

"It wasn't a class performance by any means but credit to the lads, they just knuckled down and did their work and we picked up a result that we need to pick up at this time of year."

Munster -- D Hurley; G van den Heever (R O'Mahony 57), C Laulala, I Dineen, A Conway; JJ Hanrahan, C Sheridan (D Williams 59); D Kilcoyne, D Casey (N Scannell 31 blood), BJ Botha (J Ryan 34); I Nagle, B Holland (capt); Dave O'Callaghan (Donncha O'Callaghan 48), T O'Donnell (B O'Mahony 70), CJ Stander.

Scarlets -- G Owen (M Poole 73); L Williams, G Maule, A Warren (R Priestland 62), K Phillips; A Thomas, R Williams (G Davies 70); R Evans, K Owens (E Phillips 53), J Adriaanse (R Jones 53), J Ball (J Snyman 55), R Kelly, J Turnbull, J Barclay(S Hopkins 75), R McCusker (capt).

REF -- N Owens (WRU).

Irish Independent

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