Munster stretch unbeaten run in madcap thriller

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Calvin Nash who turned in a man-of-the-match performance in Cork last night.

MUNSTER are now five wins from five games in the United Rugby Championship (URC) following last night’s madcap 13-try thriller at a packed Musgrave Park.

It finished seven tries to six in Munster’s favour with Scarlets mounting a superb second-half comeback having trailed 35-7 at half-time.

Shane Daly and Player of the Match Calvin Nash both scored two tries with Patrick Campbell, Paddy Patterson and Gavin Coombes also touching down. Joey Carbery kicked six conversions and Jack Crowley one as the home side managed to see out the victory.

Graham Rowntree’s team started brilliantly and scored the opening try after just 150 seconds. Coombes, John Hodnett and Roman Salanoa all had big carries in the build-up before Antoine Frisch’s beautiful out the backdoor offload sent Campbell down the right wing for the first try. The Academy full-back pointed to the sky after scoring, dedicating the try to his coach and friend, the recently depart Tom Tierney.

Jean Kleyn knocked on inches from the line before Patterson’s inside pass allowed Nash race though the middle for his first try.

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Daly scored the third try in the left corner after 23 minutes following good hands from Carbery and Nash before Patterson weaved in for the bonus-point try on 26 minutes with Carbery’s four conversions making it 28-0.

A Joe Roberts try for Scarlets after 34 minutes got the Welsh side off the mark with Sam Costelow converting but Daly danced through the Scarlets defence on the stroke of half-time to give Munster a commanding 35-7 advantage.

Scarlets struck first in the second half with Vaea Fifita racing in from 30 metres with Costelow’s conversion making it 35-14.

Munster responded immediately with Gavin Coombes scoring his 12th try of the campaign from close range on 49 minutes.

Sione Kalamafoni pounced on a loose ball after a Scarlets counter-ruck to score in the right corner and keep the game alive as Costelow’s conversion made it 42-21.

An injury for Patrick Campbell mean the Munster backline had to be rejigged as Academy scrum-half Ethan Coughlan came in at 9 with Patterson going out to the wing and Daly moving to full-back.

Sam Lousi was in for the Scarlets’ bonus-point try just past the hour after a direct Scarlets attack with Costelow’s conversion making it 42-28 going into the final quarter.

Academy prop Mark Donnelly came up with a big turnover and Munster looked to have made the five points safe on 64 minutes with the seventh try. Replacement Jack Crowley made a break and offloaded for Daly who nearly got in for his hat-trick but passed for Nash to score his second.

Crowley’s conversion made it 49-28 but Scarlets kept going to set up a grandstand finish.

Scarlets were in for their fifth try on 70 minutes when Gareth Davies touched down under the posts to make it a two-score game before a vital Fineen Wycherley interception halted another Scarlets attack.

The Welsh side kept coming and Tom Rogers scored after 76 minutes with Costelow converting to make it 49-42.

Crowley saw a late penalty drop short and a Scarlets knock-on ended their chances of a comeback as Munster held on for an important victory. 

The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for RG Snyman as he returned from injury on 63 minutes for his first appearance since October 2021.

Munster: Patrick Campbell (Ethan Coughlan, 55); Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch, Malakai Fekitoa, Shane Daly (Joey Carbery, 77); Joey Carbery (Jack Crowley, 53), Paddy Patterson; Josh Wycherley (Mark Donnelly, 48), Diarmuid Barron (Niall Scannell, 48-63), Roman Salanoa (Keynan Knox, 48); Jean Kleyn (RG Snyman, 63), Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue (captain) (Jack O’Sullivan, 51), John Hodnett (Alex Kendellen, 68), Gavin Coombes.