Munster kick off preseason campaign with 32-28 win over London Irish.
In typical preseason fashion, Munster’s performance contained some excellent attacking phases but a few lapses in defences. It was however on the whole a positive showing with the home side outscoring the visitors by five tries to four.
Some early pressure from Johann van Graan’s side saw Munster held up on a couple of occasions but not quite able to register the opening score of the game.
That honour would fall to the visitors as a turnover in midfield was picked by centre Matt Williams who had to pace to go under the posts and with Greig Tonks adding the extras, it was a 7-0 lead after 11 minutes.
If the Munster management were somewhat frustrated with their opening, then their response to falling behind was impressive. With 16 minutes on the clock, Sweetnam pounced on a loose ball after some abrasive defensive work from Goggin dislodged the ball. Sweetnam kicked ahead and gathered to finish in the left hand corner.
James Hart attempted the conversion with Hanrahan getting treatment from the physio but his attempt was wide. Buoyed by the opening try, Munster followed up with a second as a chip ahead was gathered by the ever-influential Sweetnam who came close to the line but just couldn’t ground the ball.
Irish looked to have turned over possession but Brian Scott pounced on a loose ball that wasn’t controlled at the base of the ruck for the try. JJ now recovered from his earlier knock was wide of the mark.
Hanrahan made up for the miss on 28th minutes with a cleverly executed drop goal extending Munster’s lead to 13-7. Another Sweetnam break brought Munster up to the Irish 22 yet again and this time Dan Goggin was on hand for the try which JJ converted to give Munster a healthy 20-7 lead.
Irish would have the final say of the half with a try from a well controlled maul as the clock ticked past 40 minutes. Oliver Hoskins taking credit for the score while Brophy Clews converted to reduce the defect to 20-14.
Munster came close on several occasions as the clock ticked past 55 minutes with Irish conceding several penalties close to the line. On the third attempt Mike Sherry would take crash over from close range as Munster took at 27-14 following Keatley’s successful conversion.
Continual changes made the game somewhat stop start but that was to be expected. It didn’t stop Mike Sherry from collecting his second try of the evening off the back of a driving maul.
Keatly missed the conversion but Sherry’s try was cancelled out from the restart as Topsy Ojo chipped ahead and gathered his own kick and race over for an impressive try. Stephen Myler converted to make it a 32-21 game approaching the final two minutes.
Irish applied pressure inside the Munster 22 and kicked to the corner but Munster disrupted the initial maul well but some slick handling with a penalty advantage pending saw Scott Steele in at the corner. Myler was on target with the conversion as the final score read Munster 32-28 London Irish.
Lots of positives but plenty to work on for van Graan and co heading into Exeter next Friday night.
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