Munster champions cup campaign ends in South Africa

Calvin Nash was one of the few Munster players to impress in Durban.

MUNSTER can have few excuses about their exit from the Champions Cup at the hands of the Cell C Sharks at Kings Park Stadium in Durban over the weekend.

Sharks led 17-14 at the break but streaked clear on the restart, scoring five tries in just over 20 minutes, to emerge deserved 50-35 winners, and thus become the first team from South Africa to reach the quarter-final of the competition 

Of immediate concern to Munster is an opening-half injury sustained by Roman Salanoa.  

Early-on, Jean Kleyn was penalised when competing on a Sharks lineout with Curwin Bosch notching the first penalty to make it 3-0.

Munster hit back off a very well-worked move with Shane Daly scoring in the left corner on five minutes. Jack Crowley converted for a 7-3 advantage.

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Jaden Hendrikse was in for the first Sharks try on 15 minutes after Makazole Mapimpi made a break in midfield before offloading for the scrum-half to score. Bosch converted and Sharks led 10-7.

Eben Etzebeth was in for the second Sharks try on 24 minutes after the hosts won a scrum penalty and kicked to the corner with the big lock scoring from close range. The conversion made it 17-7.

Munster earned a first penalty on 26 minutes with Crowley kicking into the 22. Munster attacked but a Sharks intercept spoiled the attack and cleared.

Calvin Nash made a 50-metre break from deep and Munster were back in the game when Dave Kilcoyne scored from close range on 31 minutes from close range with Crowley’s conversion making it 17-14 at the break.

Sharks got their maul going early in the second half and won a number of penalties to earn a five-metre lineout with Bongi Mbonambi scoring off a driving maul. Bosch converted and Sharks led 24-14 with 34 minutes to go.

Sharks repeated the dose on 48 minutes with Mbonambi in for his second try. The Munster maul defence had to answer to the Sharks power.

Werner Kok got in for the fifth Sharks try after 53 minutes when the ball dropped into his hands off a ricochet and he raced clear to score. Bosch converted to make it 36-14 with Sharks out of sight.

Bosch picked up a loose Munster pass to streak clear and score in the right corner with the conversion making it 43-14 as things went from bad to worse.

Diarmuid Barron scored the third Munster try on the hour off a driving maul with Crowley converting to make it 43-21.

The visitors were forcing things as they looked to chase the game but Fekitoa’s offload was picked off by Mapimpi for another Sharks try under the posts.

Mike Haley got in for the fourth Munster try on 68 minutes after a well-worked move off a lineout with Crowley again on target.

Fineen Wycherley scored the fifth Munster try on 77 minutes after a powerful finish but there was no way back as Sharks clinched a 15-point victory.

Munster: Mike Haley; Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch, Malakai Fekitoa (Joey Carbery, 69), Shane Daly; Jack Crowley, Craig Casey (Conor Murray, 48); Dave Kilcoyne (Josh Wycherley, 59), Niall Scannell (Diarmuid Barron, 48), Roman Salanoa (inj, Stephen Archer, 19); Jean Kleyn, RG Snyman (Fineen Wycherley, 48); Peter O’Mahony (captain) (Jack O’Donoghue, 55), John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes (Alex Kendellen, 55).