Munster ‘A’ 39 Leinster ‘A’ 6
Over the course of a match played before a large Ballinakill crowd mainly composed of secondary school students, Munster featured 11 players involved in the Magners League win over Edinburgh.
Not only that, but the Munster team that finished the game included 11 players from the province’s Academy system, including Waterpark’s Murray Kinsella, who took to his home sod with great acclaim.
Munster were, by some distance, the more co-ordinated, cohesive and creative unit, illustrating the sort of continuity and focus which surely pleased onlooking head coach Tony McGahan.
“The guys were excellent in the first half and it was good to see them keep it going to get that total of 39 points,” said McGahan, who observed proceedings from behind the clubhouse goal throughout.
“The fact that they didn’t concede a try was another positive. The defence was excellent, the guys showed a lot of spirit and that’s a strong indicator of where the group is.
Added McGahan: “We haven’t had a lot of games but we have put a lot of emphasis on the ‘A’ programme this year. Leinster beat us last time out and it was a very poor performance, so I guess it was a credit to everyone involved to turn that around.”
With Kiwi number eight Nick Williams landing several crowd-pleasing hits, Munster took to their task with immediate relish, pinning Leinster inside their own 10-metre line and led by 10 points after 21 minutes.
Inside centre Scott Deasy touched down for the opening try after excellent link-up play involving fly-half Jeremy Manning and winger Finbar Ahern – the UL Bohs man who caught the eye throughout.
Leinster’s James Power bisected the posts with a 24th minute penalty to reduce the arrears. Three minutes later, a superb upfield surge by wing Shane Monaghan, halted by a knock-on, was to prove as good as it got for the men in navy from an offensive juncture.
On the half-hour, Deasy crossed the whitewash again after a superb jinking run by the menacing Manning evaded Leinster cover, releasing Kieran Lewis who in turn offloaded to his onrushing midfield partner.
Manning converted, while Power landed another penalty for Leinster to leave 11 points between the teams at the break.
After the interval, Munster refused to take the foot off the gas and extended their advantage.
A fine mix of pick-and-go rugby and excellent offloading placed enormous pressure on a Leinster pack that featured Devon Toner and Stephen Keogh.
Scrum-half Duncan Williams, released by Nick Williams, touched down to end the game as a contest, with further tries from Tommy O’Donnell and a brace from replacement hooker Mike Sherry sending the large attendance home happy.
The most satisfying element of the Munster display? That experienced and greenhorn alike executed the basics of the game so well, were relentless in their intensity and sugar coated it with terrific timing in the offload, rapid recycling and punishing physicality.
If this performance offers any indicator, then the Munster conveyor belt shows no signs of slowing.
* Kudos to Waterpark, who opted not to charge at the gate for last week’s game.
Munster: Denis Hurley, F Aherne, K Lewis, S Deasy, C O’Boyle, J Manning, D Williams, Darragh Hurley, M Essex, T Ryan, D Foley, D Ryan, B Holland (captain), N Williams, T O’Donnell. Replacements: D Barnes for Lewis (43 mins), K Essex for N Williams, I Nagle for Holland (both 54 mins), D Ryan for Darragh Hurley (55 mins), M Prendergast for D Williams (58 mins), M Sherry for M Essex (60 mins), A Burke for O’Boyle (62 mins), M Kinsella for Denis Hurley (67 mins).
Leinster: N Morris, S Monaghan, L Kavanagh, C O’Donoghue, D Moore, J Power, S Keogh, S Knoop, J Harris-Wright, J Hagan, D Toner, E Sheriff, S Keogh (captain), P Ryan, K McLoughlin. Replacements: E Crawford for Keogh, M. Geraghty for Power (both 58 mins), R Sweeney for Harris-Wright, R Murphy for Knoop (both 63 mins).
Referee: L Colgan (IRFU).