Sunday 16 June 2019

O'Donnell hopeful of all-clear after Munster draw

Scarlets 25 Munster 25

Munster's Tommy O'Donnell is tackled by Ken Owens of the Scarlets during their Guinness Pro12 clash at Parc Y Scarlets. Photo: Steve Pope / SPORTSFILE
Munster's Tommy O'Donnell is tackled by Ken Owens of the Scarlets during their Guinness Pro12 clash at Parc Y Scarlets. Photo: Steve Pope / SPORTSFILE
Munster's Felix Jones breaks through the tackle of Ken Owens of the Scarlets during their Guinness Pro12 clash at Parc Y Scarlets. Photo: Steve Pope / SPORTSFILE
Munster's Stephen Archer is tackled by Lewis Rawlins of the Scarlets during their Guinness Pro12 clash at Parc Y Scarlets. Photo: Steve Pope / SPORTSFILE
Munster's Billy Holland is tackled by Phil John of the Scarlets during their Guinness Pro12 clash at Parc Y Scarlets. Photo: Steve Pope / SPORTSFILE
Munster's Denis Hurley takes on the Scarlets defence during their Guinness Pro12 clash at Parc Y Scarlets. Photo: Steve Pope / SPORTSFILE

Matt Lloyd

Tommy O'Donnell is expected to be passed fit to return to Ireland duty despite missing the climax to this thrilling comeback by Munster.

O'Donnell, who scored a stunning try in Rome earlier this month, failed a concussion test following a knock that forced him off at Parc y Scarlets shortly before half-time.

However, Munster coach Anthony Foley was confident the flanker would be cleared for a potential recall to the national squad ahead of the clash against England.

"Tommy failed his concussion protocol test so had to come off but he was in the dressing-room after the game talking about the penalty he gave away, pleading his case, so I wouldn't imagine it's too serious. But we will take all the necessary precautions with a head injury," said Foley.

O'Donnell's exit was a blow for Munster given that he had been the most dynamic player on the pitch.

By a curious twist of fate, his replacement Paddy Butler was forced off shortly after with a similar injury. That prompted the introduction of youngster Jack O'Donoghue, who crossed to briefly put Munster ahead early in the second half.

"It was a blow to lose Tommy because he is a big player for us. Then to back that up, Paddy came on and suffered a similar injury. But it's great to have players able to come on and step up and Jack continued his good form from last week," said Foley.

Emerge

Munster left it late to emerge from west Wales with a share of the points after Felix Jones and JJ Hanrahan both crossed in the final five minutes. Ian Keatley converted the latter to level the scores with the final kick of the game.

Two points were enough to overtake Leinster in the pecking order as the battle for the top four intensifies.

"There are five teams who keep jumping over each other every week but it's important we are not the ones to miss out on the play-offs," said Foley.

"We're happy to come away from Parc y Scarlets with something because we didn't in the previous two years. We got into the lead and then in the next five minutes we were nine points down.

"From being in a position of dominance we were suddenly looking at not even getting a bonus point.

"It would have been easy for the guys to drop their heads and accept the loss but they dug deep and managed to get two tries that got a result. There were a lot of young guys out there but they all kept trying and believing.

"It's not ideal when you're 12 points down with time running out so if someone told you with five minutes left you would get two points then you would take it."

Munster face play-off rivals Glasgow and Ospreys in the coming fortnight and will not be able to squander as much possession as they did against Scarlets, who led 25-13 through the boot of Steven Shingler and a try from Kiwi centre Hadleigh Parkes after Keatley's kick was blocked.

Nor can they afford similar disciplinary issues, having handed Shingler 18 points through six penalties and seen scrum-half Duncan Williams binned for stamping.

"We need to look at a few things like how we're getting out of our own half. We weren't good enough at that and allowed Scarlets to build pressure in our 22," conceded Foley.

"Our discipline didn't hold up under that and they kicked their points."

Scarlets: J Williams; H Robinson, R King (R Priestland h-t), H Parkes, M Tagicakibau; S Shingler (A Warren 75), A Davies (G Davies h-t); P John (R Evans h-t), K Owens (capt), P Edwards (J Adriaanse 75), L Rawlins, J Snyman (G Earle 10), A Shingler, J Davies, J Barclay (R McCusker 75)

Munster: F Jones; A Conway, K Earls, D Hurley (capt), L O'Dea (JJ Hanrahan 55); I Keatley, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, K O'Byrne (E Guinazu 48), S Archer (BJ Botha 48), D O'Callaghan, B Holland, T O'Donnell (P Butler 37, J O'Donoghue 48), CJ Stander.

Referee: D Phillips (IRFU).

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