FIRST hurdle cleared, only 17 more to go. Munster’s opening URC fixture with the Sharks, played on the pristine surface of Thomond Park, reflected the depth of talent that is emerging within the Academy.
Ethan Coughlan and Edwin Edogbo were hardly household names in the provincial rugby world but they both edged their ambitions up a notch or two as their side survived a shaky opening quarter to achieve Munster’s immediate goal of five league points.
It was a satisfactory victory for many reasons with Joey Carbery restoring the form that temporarily waned towards the end of last season, and Andrew Conway also showing that he has lost none of his finishing skills with a well-taken try in the second half.
It wasn’t the perfect performance and Munster will have to be at their best when they travel to Benetton this Saturday at 2pm.
Head coach Graham Rowntree is not only asking for the same again this season but, now that his side has tasted success, he wants more: “Winning the URC League has pushed us on this summer, me personally, and all the staff. The trophy we won last season cannot be a once-off,” he declared.
At the weekend, fans can expect recent signing Alex Nankivell to play a part with Munster.
Benetton will be on a high after their single point 22-23 away victory over Cardiff in the Arms Park. By any stretch that was a significant result and the Italian side cannot be taken for granted.
Their head coach, Marco Bortolami, who played in the second row with Italy, will have his charges well prepared with a variety of trick plays up his sleeve. Watch out for Alessandro Izekor at six, a player highly regarded by Bortolami.
Munster can boast of the best second row pairing in the world with the SA pair of Jean Kleyn and RG Snyman, along with Tadhg Beirne, to choose from. But there is a hitch: it’s speculated that Kleyn and Snyman cannot play on the same team as the former is no longer Irish qualified.
Interesting times ahead!
Written by Aidan Corr.