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“Marchons! Marchons!”: Munster: 30 – Castres: 5

I left with MRSC bar with the chorus of the French anthem La Marseillaise ringing in my ears thanks to some visitors from Castres joining the Red Army there after the game and it seemed an appropriate title on several levels, – we will march on, taking 4 points from the game as we head to France where the yellow vest protests show that the spirit of the revolution lives on.

pre game

A variety of colours in the team huddle at the end of the warm-up as some of the team were in black, others in red or teal

It was a strange game – there were enforced late changes with Joey Carbery ruled out and being joined on the sidelines by Chris Farrell who pulled up during the warm-up.  Conditions were difficult with a swirling wind – of the 6 flags at the south terrace three would be blowing one direction and the other three might be hanging limply or blowing the other way while it was also wet underfoot after a heavy shower prior to kickoff which led to a slippery ball at times.

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It was an arm wrestle at times as Castres did their best to disrupt Munster

The scrum was dominant especially during the first half.  The lineout suffered a few malfunctions, preventing Munster from making their dominance count on the scoreboard.  The kicking game paid dividends as the Castres backs failed to deal with the ball well on several occasions.  However time and again Munster got into good positions only for an error to set them back.  A pass from Conor to Tadhg which he could not control, a super linebreak from Conway when Cloete acted as scrumhalf and Conor took the pass in midfield to hit Conway only for the move to breakdown, some fantastic turnovers by Beirne and O’Mahony.. it was all just a bit start/stop.  A final scrum penalty just before half-time had us hoping for a breakthrough but led to confusion when Rory kicked it dead and the referee brought it back for Castres to restart.  Was the stadium clock wrong or why did he not blow it up then?  He had us scratching our heads a few times during the game!

Ref Scrum

The referee JP Doyle has a good look at the scrum

The 6-0 lead at half time did not reflect the home team’s dominance.  While the wind would be more of an advantage in the second half it made the bonus point look less likely but not impossible, especially if Munster could score early after the break which is exactly what they did.  CJ broke from the back of the scrum and Murray picked and went with a lovely offload to Rory running a great support line.  JJ nailed the difficult conversion kick, full credit to him for his faultless kicking display especially given the poor return he had had from the tee against Edinburgh.

The early afternoon kick-off is not ideal for getting the best out of the 16th man but the noise and energy levels rose considerably when Peter won a great turnover as Castres got into the best attacking position of the game, albeit fortuitously as Conor had knocked on when catching their penalty attempt kick at goal after it had drifted wide.  That gave Castres the platform of a 5m scrum and it required the captain to produce one of his trademark steals to relieve the pressure.

The decision to take three points in the 58th minute which pushed the gap out to 16-0 was a bit surprising as we had expected them to go for the line and push on for another try.  When that hoped for second try came ten minutes later, it featured a break and a sublime pass from Conor this time to CJ who showed his power to get to the line despite being the best efforts of the defence.

The third try was very well worked with some of the slick passing we had seen in the Edinburgh game last week – great interplay between Rory and Sam in midfield and the halfback pairing Alby and JJ at the end.  Some of us wondered if JJ should have drop-kicked the conversion to save time and push for the fourth bonus point try but it was not to be.

Another head scratcher at the end when the referee yellow carded Conway but did not award a penalty try which would have saved time and give Munster a restart to go all out for a bonus point.  Instead when the Castres player casually kicked the ball to touch for the lineout and Peter got a boot to it I thought the danger was cleared but the whistle said otherwise.  From the final play Castres got their try in the far corner.  JJ who had moved to fullback went all out for the intercept.  If he had been successful he would have been the hero and given the scoreline I think it was worth the risk.

Munster: Mike Haley (Tyler Bleyendaal ’76), Andrew Conway, Sam Arnold, Rory Scannell (Jaco Taute ’76), Keith Earls: JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray (Alby Mathewson ’68): Dave Kilcoyne (Jeremy Loughman ’70), Niall Scannell (Kevin O’Byrne ’45), John Ryan; Tadhg Beirne, Billy Holland (Fineen Wycherly ’69); Peter O’Mahony, Chris Cloete (Arno Botha ’65), CJ Stander.

Castres: Scott Spedding, Armand Batlle (Martin Laveau ’60), Thomas Combezou, Florian Vialelle, Taylor Paris, Benjamin Urdapilleta, Ludovic Radosavljevic (Rory Kockott 68). Antoine Tichit (Paea Fa’anunu ’45), Jody Jenneker (Kevin Firmin ’45), Daniel Kotze (Marc Clerc ’45); Loic Jacquet (Christophe Samson ’63), Thibault Lassalle; Mathieu Babillot, Kevin Gimeno (Yannick Caballero ’40), Alex Tulou (Julien Caminati ’69).

Stats from ESPN show how Munster dominated possession, position, with plenty of line breaks and defenders beaten plus fewer tackles but the final execution let them dow time and again.  Full stats are available here

Stats

Video highlights are here.   Match report from The42.ie, Irish Times   Match report from the Irish Examiner includes the thoughts of Peter on MOTM JJ Hanrahan.  Thoughts from both coaching teams from the Examiner

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CJ all set to chase down Conor’s box-kick after good work by the maul

I love the community of supporters I meet on the terrace, on roadtrips to away games and on social media.  One of the latter, Rob was over from the UK for his annual visit to Thomond so I was delighted to have his company on the drive down from Dublin and an opportunity to repay his kindness in dropping me at East Midlands airport after the Leicester game last December.  It is true what they say, good company shortens the journey as our conversation covered topics from Brexit, family, work, parkruns as well as our beloved Munster.  We arrived in Limerick at the same time as a heavy shower but it dried up shortly before we walked over to the stadium from LIT.  George and Imelda had just told Rob how the folks on the east get the worst of the rain as the prevailing wind comes from the Cratloe end when the rain returned and the swirling wind meant we did get wet that time!  We heard about Joey’s calf injury shortly after arriving and were disappointed but hopeful that it would not be a long term set-back.  During the warmup Chris Farrell pulled up with an injury so Sam was promoted to the starting 15 and Jaco came onto the bench.  We did not see any of the players coming down from the MRSC bar before the game but I did see Paul Ring so I asked him about tickets for the Leinster game for the west terrace for members as ticketmaster only have the north terrace available.  Sinead enquired about the 2019 Munster calendar so apparently it is coming soon.

As I left the stadium I met Patrick, Eilish and their friends.  He hasn’t forgiven me yet for testing him a few weeks ago (to see if he had actually read the blog or if he was just telling me what I wanted to hear).  As we stood there you could really feel the cold wind – you forget that just because you can’t feel it during the game thanks for the shelter of the stand and the crowd around you, it doesn’t mean that the players out on the pitch don’t have to contend with it.  Up in the bar I met James and Sinead before catching up with the MRSC Dublin folks and friends.  Paul told me that Tommy and Darren Sweetnam had been up before the game meeting supporters and posing for photos etc.

Pixie was sitting near them and we enjoyed a catch-up, unfortunately her planned trip to Castres is off due to a change in the Ryanair schedule!  Hopefully my flight via Stanstead will go to schedule next Friday.  Hilary has done a fantastic job in organising the coach from Toulouse to Castres and I am looking forward to the roadtrip.  Toulouse will look fabulous with the Christmas lights and the forecast as of the time of writing looks to be dry.  With Exeter losing at home this weekend Gloucester are hoping we will slip up in France.  We can expect a tougher battle from our hosts who will look to give their supporters plenty to cheer about so we will need to stand up and fight in earnest there, being red, loud and proud, flying the flag of the Red Army as we represent our province and our team.  Hopefully there won’t be any health or safety concerns there!  Bon voyage

A smile for those who read this far – enjoy the Gift Grub about Stringer in Dancing with the Stars

 

 

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Started as it finished: Munster: 44 – Edinburgh: 14

An early and a late try from Man of the Match Chris Farrell bookended this encounter on a cool but mainly dry night in Cork.  After six trys in the first half, with an excellent variety of passes and attack lines, the second was a bit of an anti-climax featuring only two tries scored by Munster!  We had expected them to push on and score freely but Edinburgh had other ideas.  Maybe Munster did not want to show all their hand before the Castres back to back games, or wanted to work on their defence or were distracted by missing the annual toy show 🙂   We had joked at half time that we would not see much action in the second half as Munster would be attacking down the far side but the ESPN stats show the home side only enjoyed 28% possession and 26% territory compared to 54% and 61% in the first half.  Given the inexperienced Edinburgh side a half century looked to be well within reach.  The number of missed conversions did not help and a better return from the kicking tee will be required in the tighter games ahead.

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JJ kicks a penalty to touch

It was great to see Chris Farrell and Conor Murray make their first starts of the season.  Niall Scannell and Billy Holland had made great progress to set up his first score.  The passing by Chris Cloete – standing in at scrum half at the lineout – and JJ Hanrahan to put Andrew Conway through for the second were sublime.  His turn of pace was certainly appreciated by the supporters as he scorched through the gap to score.

A few minutes later it was Mike Haley with the final pass to Andrew who scored down the far wing.  That time it was Chris Farrell’s pass to JJ and on to Mike which made the space for the attack, putting Munster 19-0 up within twenty minutes.

Conor feeds the scrum

Scrum

The visitors struck back with a well worked try down the west side, finishing off by Duhan van der Merve.

Keith Earls put himself in the right place at the right time to take advantage of excellent mauling by the pack which had put Munster close to the Edinburgh line to score the bonus point try.  He doubled his tally after 33 minutes, Farrell and Haley were involved in the build-up as the backline continued to impress.  The 6th try was started by Conway, taken over the halfway line by Haley.  Then Arno and Rory carried it up to the Edinburgh 22 before it was finished by Earls, completing his hat-trick by the 37th minute.

There was a lull after the break, it took until the 63rd minute before there was another score this time finished off by Tyler Bleyendaal who had replaced Haley (with JJ moving to fullback and Tyler to outhalf).  Andrew Conway had picked up a knock in the build-up to that score and when he was withdrawn Conor Murray moved to the wing.  Hopefully it was more precautionary.

blue caps

Telling the 2 blue scrum caps apart was a challenge if you could not see the numbers on their back

When Fineen replaced Billy it got a bit confusing with both locks wearing blue scrumcaps.  With Jean Kleyn out injured for a few weeks Fineen will likely see more action this side of 2019.

Van de Merwe scored his second try on 68 minutes before Farrell completed the scoring with a lovely fend in the build-up to score in the 76th minute.

The penalty count was a little high in the second half which gave Edinburgh more possession and there will be plenty to review this week as preparations ramp up for the tough games ahead.

Match reports from Irish Examiner, Irish Times and The42.ie

My personal highlight of the evening was when the teams came out for the 2nd half and Andrew Conway was over on our wing.  Before kick-off Kevin called out to him that Earlsie had 3 so he needed to catch up!  He smiled in acknowledgement 🙂  I caught up with regular reader Liam during the week who noted that he had not noticed any blogs from me in a while.  As mentioned previously I decided to only blog about the games I personally attend this season so it will be a busy month for me as I will be attending both Castres games and Leinster.

You might enjoy listening to Keith Earls (amongst others) speaking to Barry Murphy on the House of Rugby

Final words from Man of the Match and Conor

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“Our Joey” steers Munster to the top: Munster: 36 – Gloucester 22

It was no miracle match but 5 points secured put Munster at the top of the table of their European pool.  A kick-off let bounce, lineout malfunctions and inaccurate passes led to a slow start for Munster as Peter spoke about in his very honest post match interview.  The final ten minutes were particularly disappointing and it was no wonder that the nature of the bonus point win was unsatisfactory for a team with high expectations and standards.

A howl of protest from the east terrace and a flag by the assistant referee led to the first of many TMO reviews of the day.  A cleanout on Dan Goggin resulted in a yellow card for Tom Savage after 16 minutes which seemed a bit harsh when watching the replay but the officials are clamping down on dangerous play.  (Well played threeredkings – edited by one Tom Savage)

Finally Munster kept possession through 13 phases and stretched the defence after good work by the pack for the backs to work the ball out to Mike Haley on the wing who scored his first try for Munster.

Imelda and I made the big screen celebrating that score – I was surprised to find that I had managed to wave the flag off the pole and it disappeared amongst the throng on the terrace.  The conversion was off target and the gap was further narrowed before the sinbin period ended when Danny Cipriani kicked a penalty to make it 5-3.

Tempers were frayed not least when Tadhg Beirne won a turnover and took exception to how someone tried to prise his fingers off the ball.  When the game resumed there was a reaction to the tackle on Rory Scannell in midfield -(albeit Quinny on TV3 called him Niall by mistake!).  Was it a high tackle or a shoulder charge to the face by Cipriani?  We wondered what would be the decision as it went to TMO review and were surprised to see the red card shown but listening back to the game the referee said he had no option as you can hear in the audio in the below tweet.

Munster kicked the 3 points on offer and we expected the team to exploit the space with 50 minutes remaining.

Joey Carberry was victim of another bad tackle to give Munster a penalty which was kicked to touch.  From the lineout secured by Peter the pack took control.  At the back of the fast-moving maul Rhys Marshall made no mistake to score the try.  Joey converted to make it 15-3 after 35 minutes.

In the 36th minute Tommy made a tackle and you could tell he was in trouble straight away!  We were all so disappointed for him as we clapped him from the pitch with a suspected broken bone.  Arno Botha came on in his place and moved to number 8.  There was another injury approaching half time with Rhys Marshall hobbling off to be replaced after the break by Kevin O’Byrne.

Arno

Arno packs down at number 8

Joey was awarded Man of the Match and was heavily involved in the second half scoring his own try, putting in an awesome behind his back pass to keep the attack alive down the west side to Darren Sweetnam before working the ball the other way for (clean-shaven) Sam Arnold (on for Rory) to score the bonus point.  It was great that Sam had made a good recovery after his throat injury last weekend as he made a big impact on his introduction.

Also worth watching and enjoying Joey’s behind his back pass!!  Were you watching Ross O’Carroll-Kelly?

There was a warm welcome for GG when he made his appearance, even when he scored a try against his former team mates!

Joey also had an assist as Andrew Conway ran a great line off him to finish off a fifth try for the hosts.  One of his highlights in defence was right in front of us.  He showed his pace to put in a super tackle on Woodward who had made a break, grabbing him by his jersey and holding on for dear life as the fabric stretched but held.

However, it was fourteen man Gloucester who finished off the game strongest, forcing Munster to concede penalty after penalty.  Credit to them for being so competitive despite the red card.  They scored their second try through Woodward shortly after Conway had scored.

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Joey, Dan, Sam, Mike and Andrew look on the scrum is set

The TMO was back in action to review a deliberate knock on which resulted in Sam heading to the sinbin.  Gloucester took advantage to score again, this time through Ben Morgan.  They took the third conversion quickly as they sensed the chance of salvaging a 4 try bonus point with two minutes remaining.

The TMO was required again, resulting in a yellow card for a high tackle by Stephen Archer leaving Munster to finish with 13 men and Gloucester sensed an opportunity.

Dan Goggin appeared to be seriously injured in the final phases just before Munster turned over the ball and Tadhg kicked the ball out into the west stand.  The injury updates will be anxiously awaited after the weekend and a much changed team is likely to line out against Glasgow with the international window approaching.

MUNSTER: 15. Mike Haley (JJ Hanrahan ’67), 14. Andrew Conway, 13. Dan Goggin, 12. Rory Scannell (Sammy Arnold ’47), 11. Darren Sweetnam, 10. Joey Carbery, 9. Duncan Williams (Alby Mathewson ’47), 1. James Cronin (Dave Kilcoyne ’47), 2. Rhys Marshall (Kevin O’Byrne ’40), 3. John Ryan (Stephen Archer ’59), 4. Jean Kleyn (Billy Holland ’60), 5. Tadhg Beirne, 6. Peter O’Mahony (c), 7. Tommy O’Donnell (Arno Botha ’37), 8. CJ Stander.

GLOUCESTER: 15. Jason Woodward, 14. Matt Banahan, 13. Billy Twelvetrees, 12. Mark Atkinson (Owen Williams ’62), 11. Tom Marshall (Tom Hudson ’44), 10. Danny Cipriani, 9. Callum Braley (Ben Vellacott ’52), 1. Val Rapava Ruskin (Ciaran Knight ’64) , 2. Franco Marais (Henry Walker ’23), 3. Josh Hohneck, 4. Tom Savage, 5. Ed Slater (Gerbrandt Grobler ’53) 6. Freddie Clarke (Gareth Evans ’60), 7. Jake Polledri, 8. Ben Morgan.

Match reports from The42.ie, Irish Examiner and the Irish Times

A good article about the red card from Peter Jackson and the ratings from ThreeRedKings

Match stats from ESPN 

Pretty in pink

I was surprised to see Munster warming up in pink but it was good to see them supporting the Irish Cancer Society.

CJ was warming up on our side for a change so we watched him stretching his muscles with Jerry Flannery and another staff member putting all their effort into providing a counter weight against him and it was funny to see when he stopped pulling how they all nearly fell over!

CJ warmup

Great strength by CJ

I had met Paul on the way in from the LIT car park and he told me he was on committee duty, escorting the players to the MRSC bar so I asked him to bring them by when they were finished.  He went one better and took photos for us – you can see all my photos on the blog facebook page

Jack and Bill

Jack and Bill pose with the WT regulars – sky sports Joan, Kevin, Pascal, George, Niamh, Imelda, John and Sinead plus yours truly

There was a band on the south terrace and they were so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves chat before the game.  The music impacted on the audio quality for the TV coverage also, as I noticed on watching the game back.  Wasn’t it nice to have a free to air coverage for this game with analysis from ROG and Shane Jennings?

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Doug Howlett was interviewed pre-game and spoke about the new Munster strategy which I had heard about at the AGM.  There was an article about it in the Examiner also this week.  I was chatting to George about his Storm Callum disrupted travel plans last weekend.  At least he had gotten to the game but there were a lot of last minute changes and costs incurred.  We had an interesting debate about where the 5m line is also as when he said he was on the 5m line I asked him at which end – where the tries were scored or not?   I always think of “the” 5m line as being 5m from the tryline, i.e. for the 5m scrums whereas George meant he was 5m from the half-way line in Exeter.

I had to tease Joan about her appearance in the photo on the RTE site in the article about the great travelling support in Exeter.  She asked me if I had read the comments under it.  I hadn’t so I checked it out later to see some idiot Clive had written “The photo shows 12 middle aged or elderly supporters who would have the free travel anyway.”  Why do some folk have to be nasty (and inaccurate?).  Her husband Kevin had enjoyed how some supporters came up to get selfies with her at Exeter as she is quite a recognizable face as so many Munster games, hence her nickname.

Superheroes come in many guises and Imelda aka SuperSewer was called into action pre-game when one of the huge flags – used for the guard of honour as the teams enter the pitch – needed emergency repairs!  She patched it up to get through the day.  A more permanent solution was identified which Imelda volunteered to take that on before their next outing.  Have to also give her great credit for her show of athleticism as she rejoined us on the terrace by climbing up over the wall separating our section from the seats in front!  Also special mention for baby Olivia who made her debut appearance on the WT before and after the game with proud parents Fiona and Ger.

It was lovely to meet a few folks after the game – Kathleen on a day trip from London, Therese and Paul down from Blessington, most of the MRSC Dublin committee along with Geraldine, James and Sinead in the MRSC bar.  Outside I met Sandra from Waterford; Andy from up north; Eleanor, Claire and Aine also from Waterford, while I enjoyed Michelle’s company on the drive to and from Dublin.  A long day, a weird game but 5 points in the bag.  Let’s see how the boys fare during the international window.  Hopefully they will come back fit and well with some of the injury problems healed and rehabbed, ready to go grab control of the group during the back-to-back phase of the competition.  Two games down, four to go and our new recruits are making a valued contribution with Tadgh and Joey picking up MOTM awards plus Mike getting on the scoresheet.  The glass remains half-full:-)

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3Ds: Defiant, determined defence: Exeter: 10 – Munster: 10

While all but a first half Munster penalty were scored down the opposite end we had the best view of the tense finale.  A kick too far after an enthralling, physical 78 minutes in tough conditions gave Exeter one last chance to claim 4 points and victory.  Bodies were put on the line, repelling each and every foray.  A missed tackle, a penalty conceded in midfield in front of the posts, a slip or a trip and the Chiefs would have been through.  The wind made a drop goal too risky.  There was no let-up in intensity towards the end of this gruelling battle as the Exeter Chiefs threw everything at Munster who went toe to toe, ruck to ruck, through 22 phases before forcing a knock-on.

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The pack and Neil Cronin on his European debut discuss tactics for final effort

There was a trickle towards the exit in the closing minutes and what a titanic end-game they missed!  At the final whistle bodies lay strewn on the pitch.  This was a dogged performance with both teams trying to seize control of the pool in the opening round.
Both teams put in over 180 tackles apiece and had emptied themselves for their jersey.  While there was no winner Munster will be the happier.  Depriving Exeter of victory and the accompanying extra points which could be the difference at the end of the pool stages is a huge result given their pedigree.  Both sides had chances to win it and will rue errors in execution but the pressure they put on each other and the conditions they were playing in as the remnants of Storm Callum blew hard are mitigating factors.

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CJ retrieves his boot during a break in play

While the only scores were a penalty and converted try apiece there was plenty of drama.  Stolen lineouts, driving mauls, tackling like dervishes, no one prepared to take a backward step.  Kicking into the wind was impossible so as Munster faced into it for the first half it was more a case of “up the jumper” tactics.

Tadgh secures lineout

Tadgh secures lineout

With the score tied at 3-3 approaching half time it was looking good for Munster but Exeter managed to burst through with just minutes to go.  The conversion resulted in Gareth Steenson lying flat out on the pitch.  The replays showed that Conway had collided with him when he tried to block down the kick.  There was booing from the home supporters when the referee did not sanction Andrew.  Steenson was ok to play on after some treatment.

The second half allowed Munster to deploy their aerial game.  Several opportunities were unconverted – Chris Cloete’s touchdown was disallowed for crossing while a few passes did not go to hand in excellent positions.

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Chris breaks for the line – photo by Daryl

The Exeter counter-attack had our hearts in our mouth as their speedsters raced towards our end.  The commitment and pace shown by the defence was immense.  Full credit to Duncan Williams for making three tackles in rapid succession to slow down their attack.

Scrum 2nd half

Munster put in to the scrum to relieve pressure

The eventual Munster try after their near misses earlier came just after the hour mark.  Beirne secured the lineout and the maul was set.  It made good ground before Rhys took it on.  James Cronin carried well as did Sam Arnold.  Tommy O’Donnell nearly got to the posts before Rhys had another go and CJ finished it off in style.  Two Exeter players lay stretched out in the wake of the attack, as they valiantly tried to stem the powerful bursts.  Joey converted to tie the scores.

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Joey’s first half penalty kick as Duncan stabilises the ball.

There was still twenty minutes left.  I recall a ROG-esque kick to the corner by Joey as Munster pinned their hosts back.  Even when Exeter won possession with the wind against them they found it difficult to make ground and Munster soaked up all the pressure they threw at them and went back for seconds and thirds until those final 22 phases.

With the new players settling in the team are building nicely.  Our best away performance of the season will need to be backed up but this was a very encouraging start to the new European campaign.

Exeter Chiefs: 15. Phil Dollman, 14. Jack Nowell, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Ian Whitten, 11. Santiago Cordero, 10. Gareth Steenson (c), 9. Stu Townsend,
1. Ben Moon (Alec Hepburn ’57), 2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Jack Yeandle ’57), 3. Harry Williams (Tom Francis ’57), 4. Dave Dennis (Ollie Atkins ’42), 5. Sam Skinner (Tom Lawday ’64), 6. Dave Ewers, 7. Don Armand, 8. Matt Kvesic.

Munster Rugby: 15. Mike Haley, 14. Andrew Conway, 13. Dan Goggin (Sam Arnold ’60 (JJ Hanrahan ’68)) , 12. Rory Scannell, 11. Darren Sweetnam, 10. Joey Carbery, 9. Duncan Williams (Neil Cronin ’73): 1. Dave Kilcoyne (James Cronin ’45), 2. Niall Scannell (Rhys Marshall ’57), 3. Stephen Archer (John Ryan ’45), 4. Jean Kleyn (Billy Holland ’61), 5. Tadhg Beirne, 6. Peter O’Mahony (c), 7. Chris Cloete (Tommy O’Donnell ’60), 8. CJ Stander.

Longer highlights with analysis from ROG and Shane Jennings on the VirginMedia player for the next 28 days for those in Ireland

Articles from The42.ie: Match report, an article focused on Joey and article post match thoughts of the coach

Match reviews from the Irish Examiner and Irish Times.

Three Red Kings has analysis and awards two 5 star ratings this week.  Those were well earned by Duncan and Tadgh, credit also to Darren who had travelled and warmed up as the 24th man but slotted straight into the action when Earls had to withdraw.

Stats from ESPN are here and show how Munster disrupted the Exeter lineout, which only gave the home team a 60% return.  Some brilliant steals in tough conditions!

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Packing down for the final scrum of the game – maximum tension

Disruption, delays, diversions…

Storm Callum did it’s worst to disrupt the travel plans of the Red Army.  From planes which could not take off (from Knock) to others which could not land in Bristol and were either diverted or returned to Ireland; cancelled ferry crossings and general delays it was a bit fraught to say the least.  My own flight from Dublin was delayed by 3 hours and the landing was a little bumpy to say the least but not as scary as this flight which landed sideways!

At the airport I was chatting to Sandra who had travelled up from Waterford.  The delayed departure meant that she had no way of getting to Exeter by bus that evening so luckily Bruce and Dee had room in their hire car to take her there.  Paul had been in touch to say his flight from Knock was cancelled after a tough enough drive there from Tipperary that morning in bad weather.  He re-routed to Stansted, over-nighted in London and took the train down on Saturday morning.  I heard of others who had diverted to Birmingham and paid a fortune for a taxi to Exeter!  There were a few empty seats dotted around and I expect some of those were due to travel disruptions.

The forecast had been awful for the game itself but thankfully there was just a short shower about 2.30 and then it dried up.  However it would have been wet underfoot to make handling difficult along with the strong wind.  At times it sounded like the roof would lift off the SW Comms stand – it had a canvas type roof mounted on a steel frame.  That did not dampen the spirits of those in attendance from both sides who generated a great atmosphere.

The drummers were entertaining the early arrivals outside the grounds as we arrived and were on the pitch during the warm up and at half time.  Thanks to MRSC for getting the flags there despite the cancelled ferry as they added colour to the proceedings.

It was lovely to meet Olive and Mel again who had accompanied me to the Cardiff game three seasons ago.  Olive introduced me to her son Domhnall.  The fancy printed mug in the photo below cost Michelle £1 extra and I assume Domhnall paid at least that for his larger one – could be a good souvenir / money making idea for Munster to adopt?  We arranged to meet up again for the Gloucester game.

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My sister Michelle, Domhnall, Olive and Mel outside the bar before the game.

The aforementioned Dee and Bruce told us of a rumour that Peter had picked up an injury and would not be  playing.  Thankfully the rumour was wrong as he had an immense game.  We had seen the team walk in just half an hour earlier through the crowd and he had looked fine.  The players had been cheered on by so many Munster supporters as they filed past that it must have felt more like a home game.  Quote from Johan: “The support over the weekend was incredible. You’re shocked when you come off that bus and you see what it means to people to come and support Munster”  

It was great to hear the Fields of Athenry and Stand up and Fight ring out throughout the game, along with the Chiefs chants and “Oggie oggie oggie” etc.  Before the game we had a great singsong of Sweet Caroline – I ignored the customised chorus about Chiefs!  I heard that there was a great band playing after the game and see many accounts on twitter of the great rapport between the supporters.  Hopefully a good number will make the trip to Thomond in January.

As we left Michelle met her manager for her first job so stopped to say hello.  Pat who was sitting near him recognised me and was telling him about this blog.  Nice to meet you Pat.

We had parked the far side of the motorway, it was a half mile walk or so from Sowton to the stadium which was well sign-posted and there was a steady stream of people heading that way.  On the return, the wind was so strong it was like being on a rope bridge as the suspension concrete bridge, now packed with pedestrians, bobbed up and down in the wind.  It was incredible and scary as it was a long way down!

On Sunday we explored Dartmoor and even saw some of the famous ponies.  Back at the airport we met Sandra again and her friend Dee.  We also met Joe and his wife Dee – so the Dees theme in this weeks blog comes from a comment my sister made about the number of Dees I know who support Munster!  I asked Joe about his arrangements for the Castres trip as I had been disgusted to discover that the last train back to Toulouse from Castres leaves too early given the late kick-off for that leg!  I was delighted to learn that they have the same issue and are planning a bus instead so hopefully that works out.  I put my name down for it anyway with his sister Hilary.

Hope to see some of you in Limerick next weekend.

thanks

the players salute the travelling supporters

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Eighty minute performance: Munster: 64 – Ulster 7

I learned my lesson from the Ospreys write-up not to get carried away by an even more dominant win in round 5, as Munster scored 9 tries and nearly had a few more, which has to be taken in context of the weakened side Ulster fielded.  Injuries and the impact of jetlag after their two game trip to South Africa cannot be discounted either as we had seen when Munster had a short turnabout before facing Racing in Bordeaux last April after their trip to SA.  Ulster were further deprived of even more experience when two of their internationals had to be withdrawn for HIAs in the first half – Iain Henderson and John Cooney.  Faced with a Munster team hurting from their ineptitude in Cardiff there was only ever going to be one outcome.  However the manner of the win, the fact that there was no let up in the closing quarter – when the substitutions were completed and even when down to 14 for the final minutes when Peter O’Mahony had to leave after picking up a knock – was most satisfying.

At the kick-off by Ulster I was alarmed to see Dan Goggin and Tadhg Beirne almost colliding as both were carried by their lifters to try to secure the ball, converging at almost the same place.  Better communication is needed in my view to avoid injury.  It happened again later in the game.  It was great to see Niall Scannell and Keith Earls back for their seasonal debuts and both enjoyed excellent games.  We keenly awaited the debut of Alby Mathewson whose work permit finally came through and he did not disappoint.

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Alex Wootton was a late addition when Mike Haley was withdrawn and he made an early impact with a burst of pace sucking in the last defender before passing to Dan Goggin who scored the first try of the evening.  Andrew Conway had had a hand in that score also, reacting quickly to a blocked kick to set Wootton loose.  In the build-up there was also a great turnover by Peter, leading by example which set the tone for the team.

We did not have long to wait for the second score, the time by Tommy O’Donnell charging between two defenders to race to the line.  It was converted by Joey Carbery to make it 14-0 inside ten minutes.

When Niall Scannell dragged the Ulster winger into touch we were all stunned to see Alby throw a quarter-back style pass deep into midfield to Rory Scannell who kicked deep to put Munster back into the Ulster half.  Alby has some arm on him and great vision!  He definitely added a new dimension.

Another steal by Peter won a penalty which Joey put between the posts to make it 17-0.  Ulster won and kicked a penalty to touch only to see their lineout stolen by Tadhg Beirne and have Munster push them back.

On the half hour mark Ulster had a scrum in their own half but Munster turned the screw to win a penalty which was kicked to touch.  Billy secured the ball, the maul formed and from that Tommy, driven on by Peter, made no mistake to score his second of the night.  As the photo in the tweet showed it meant a lot.  The conversion came off the post.

There was still time for the bonus point before the break and after good work by the pack.  Their maul was disrupted but they kept it tight, Niall, Tadhg, CJ, Alby, Peter and Billy all came close before they went wide, Joey picking out Dan to finish the move, running in unopposed.  The straight-forward conversion made it 29-0.  Credit to Niall Scannell for his turnover which closed down a good Ulster attack close to the line just before the break.

Ulster did get on the scoreboard early in the second half through Darren Cave after a penalty conceded by Peter at a breakdown gave them good field position in the Munster 22.  They tested the defence through 12 phases before quick hands found a chink.  Billy Burns converted to make it 29-7 in the 47th minute.

Alex Wootton came close to scoring in the 49th minute after a great burst down the west side – when he was stopped just short of the line the ball was worked back across the width of the pitch.  A long pass by Joey found Peter lurking on the east wing to score.  He looked to be in pain at that stage but played on.  Another excellent conversion made it 36-7.  Alby and Killer made way to warm applause.  It was interesting to read in Johann’s post match comments below that Alby was tiring even at half-time but it has been several months since he last played competitively and he had a very lively game.

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Rory, Dan, Joey and Alex look on as Duncan prepares to feed the scrum.

Keith Earls scooped up a loose ball which Conway’s tackle had knock it loose and set up a counter-attack but unfortunately it was called back for a forward pass to CJ.  However another crunching tackle turned over possession again and from their own 22 Rory’s pass found Joey who put Dan Goggin away.  Dan got the pass to Alex Wootton charging down the side line right in front of us.  When Alex floated the ball back inside as he was tackled there were three red shirts converging on it when with one hand Joey Carbery at full pace reached up to pluck the ball out of the air and set off for the line from his own half to the roars and cheers of the crowd.

More changes were made with Kevin, Ciaran, Jean and Arno bringing fresh legs to the pack while Sam replaced Rory in midfield before Ian came on for Joey.

Sam Arnold got onto the end of a kick through by Alex to score the try.  To add to Ulster’s woes a yellow card was shown to John Andrew for his tackle on Alex which had prevented the winger chasing his own kick.  I was delighted to see Munster get to 50 points which they had fallen short of against Ospreys a few weeks earlier and there was still time for more, two more tries in fact.

After great work by CJ to win back possession, Jean Kleyn and James Cronin had carried strongly before Duncan and Billy combined well, Billy popping the ball into the hands of Keith Earls who took it at pace to score under the posts.

Jean Kleyn finished off what would have been another great try but it was disallowed after a fumble by Earls much earlier in the build-up which was deemed to be a knock-on.

It was fitting that the 9th try fell to Alex Wootton who was the Pinergy power player!  A lineout, maul and a super long pass by Ian Keatley sucked in the defence giving Alex a clear run to the line.  The game was barbarian-esque at times but a fun spectacle for those present.

Credit to Ciaran Parker for his super lift of Arno to claim the restart – there was a gasp as it looked like Arno was heading for a fall after stretching to gather the ball but Ciaran recovered his balance to bring him down safely.  There were no more scores but both teams kept trying till the final whistle and sent the home supporters away with a smile on their face.

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Ciaran Parker lifts Arno Botha to secure the restart – Arno went horizontal before being safely brought down by the strong prop

So the players will have a pep in their step going into work on Monday but will know that any weaknesses or errors will be exploited by Leinster which will focus their mind on their preparations for the trip to the Aviva.  Another eighty minute performance will be required there and the selection will be interesting as Johann has to settle on his best 15 for the upcoming challenges.  In the first five rounds he has given opportunities to many players and different combinations so I look forward to see the team named next Friday.

I spared a thought for Ross O’Carroll-Kelly when it was announced that “MUNSTER’s Joey Carbery had won MOTM” – he wrote in his article in the Times last week about staging an intervention to rescue Joey 🙂  You can listen to it here

Highlights from eir

Match report from The42.ie, Irish Independent, and the Irish Times

Post match thoughts from Johann (including his thoughts on the debut of Alby) and Joey from The42.ie

Stats from ESPN are here  – impressive to see Billy leading the tackle count with 21 on his return after injury, with honourable mentioned to CJ on 19 and Killer on 13 making a big contribution along with his front row colleagues Niall (16) and Stephen (14).  The pack were superb throughout making space for the backline to do their thing and it was great to see the hunger to put in a bit hit or win a turnover or make a break throughout the team.

MUNSTER: 15. Andrew Conway, 14. Keith Earls, 13. Dan Goggin, 12. Rory Scannell (Sammy Arnold 63′), 11. Alex Wootton, 10. Joey Carbery (Ian Keatley 65′), 9. Alby Mathewson (Duncan Williams 51′); 1. Dave Kilcoyne (James Cronin 51′), 2. Niall Scannell (Kevin O’Byrne 63′), 3. Stephen Archer (Ciaran Parker 63′), 4. Tadhg Beirne, 5. Billy Holland (Jean Kleyn 58′), 6. Peter O’Mahony (capt), 7. Tommy O’Donnell (Arno Botha 63′) 8. CJ Stander. 

ULSTER: 15. Peter Nelson (Michael Lowry 40′), 14. Craig Gilroy, 13. Darren Cave, 12. Angus Curtis, 11. Angus Kernohan, 10. Billy Burns (James Hume 65′), 9. John Cooney (Dave Shanahan 33′); 1. Andrew Warwick (Eric O’Sullivan 65′), 2. Adam McBurney (John Andrew 65′), 3. Ross Kane (Tom O’Toole 40′), 4. Alan O’Connor (capt), 5. Iain Henderson (Kieran Treadwell 19′), 6. Matthew Rea, 7. Nick Timoney, 8. Jean Deysel. 

Well done to the A team on their fourth win from four in the Celtic Cup in Cardiff.  Daryl was there and you can find his photos here

I arrived in Limerick early so watched the first half of Connacht v Leinster in the pub before heading to the terrace where I enjoyed catching up with Sinead and seeing her photos of the wedding which had prevented her attending the Cheetahs game – I guess being bridesmaid is a good excuse 🙂 and of course we had to slag her Dad John as we saw him wearing a suit and tie!   We also enjoyed seeing photos of Ger’s little angel.

Thanks to Mark for encouraging Neil and Rhys to drop by on their way down from the supporters club bar to say hello.  I told Neil how I had enjoyed his photo of his twin nephews in Munster gear (see my Cheetahs’ game blog) and wished him well with his recovery from injury.  He seemed to be impressed that the regulars gather in the same place so early every game.

The microphones did not pick up the great singing which started on the west and spread to the east several times during the game, both “Stand Up and Fight” and the “Fields of Athenry” getting airings.

Well done to Patrick on not being found out as a spoofer when he was chatting about the blog and I asked him what he had thought of last weeks!  He looked blank and then said something about what a terrible result it had been!  He was delighted to have brought ten people to the game after winning tickets with TodayFM.  Patrick wanted to start a debate about a Munster player wearing a blue scrumcap but I was having none of it.  Josh wears a red one playing for Leinster after all and the players have their own reasons or superstitions.  I did find it confusing in the game where Tadhg and Fineen both wore blue caps in the Glasgow game and I wonder why Tommy no longer wears one but that is as far as I care.

At half-time Sinead brought my attention to the pitch where a young fellow was very carefully stamping down the loose bits.  So cute

helping

helping the groundstaff

We enjoyed a laugh later in the game when the steward who always has a bag of sweets gave one to the assistant referee.  I loved the mischievous smile on his face as he realised he had been spotted (by the noise from the nearby supporters!)

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As a committee member of MRSC Dublin I had promised to bring back some flags to decorate our new home in Copperface Jacks.  Normally they hand them out in our section of the terrace before the game so I had planned on collecting the leftovers at the end but we didn’t get any for this game.  Thanks to Ger who got me some which I will bring them into Coppers next Saturday as I am not going to the Aviva.  I will however be going to Exeter so that will likely be my next blog.  Maybe I’ll see some of you in Coppers next week!

 

 

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Masterclass in poaching: Munster: 49 – Ospreys 13

A thorn in the side of the opposition, a thief, a master poacher, a turnover king… players with these abilities are valuable assets of a team as they win back possession, be it at a ruck or in a lineout.  Munster is blessed with several such athletes.  Ospreys certainly felt the brunt of the masterclass provided by Chris Cloete, Peter O’Mahony and Tadhg Beirne when they came to Cork.  It was a key element of a dominant pack performance which was appreciated by the backs and supporters alike.
You hear how players need to get a few games under their belt to achieve match fitness and optimum performance but Chris Cloete and Peter O’Mahony blew that out of the water in their first game of the season.  Ospreys did not come fully loaded with their international contingent so the result needs to be viewed in that context but the capacity crowd in Cork enjoyed a masterclass in poaching from some of the leading exponents of that art combined with 8 tries and plenty of action.  While it did taper off a bit at the end with the substitutions and injuries it was an entertaining game and a performance which hints at what could be this season, with Keith and CJ to return in the short term.

In the opening minutes Ospreys got into a good position when the bounce of a ball on the 3G surface led it to bobble between Mike Haley’s legs.  Munster withstood the maul and when Ospreys tried plan B Chris Cloete was in like a flash to rip the ball in the tackle and put Munster back on the attack from within their own 5m line in the 2nd minute of the game.  Chris went on to play the entire 80 minutes and while there was a worrying sight of him requiring attention in the closing stages he was able to play on so hopefully it was just cramping.  What an athlete and incredible poacher he is, I am glad he is on our team!  I had a great view of him in action early in the game – noting his impressive speed getting to the ruck, setting his feet to support his weight and instantaneously going for the ball, text book technique.  With Peter O’Mahony also a proven expert poacher a backrow combining them both looks set to test and torment the opposition this season.

Sam Arnold also impressed, showing his power and pace, making an early break in midfield and shortly after picking up a long lineout throw and making a few metres.  He was even used as an option for receiving kick-offs being lifted by Chris, as was Dan later on in the game as shown in this photo. 

Cloete Goggin

Preparing to lift Dan if the restart comes his way, we were fascinated by Chris pulling the shorts up in preparation, to get a better grip I assume

Cloete was penalised for not releasing a few times but after one game he already leads the turnover table for Munster with 3.  

Kudos to Stephen Archer for a sweet offload to put James Cronin through a gap, the more often players can show these skills the better opportunity there will be to punch holes through the defence instead of opting for contact and slowing down the play which allows defences to realign.

Also back for his first game of the season, Andrew Conway made a break but could not get the pass away when tackled.  A few minutes later it was Sweetnam who made ground and put Munster into good position after a superb maul by the pack.  The cross-field kick to Conway’s wing was not paying dividends but Munster had been playing with advantage.  Joey consulted his captain Peter and the ball was kicked to the corner.  The maul was pulled down and the referees hand went out again.  Sweetnam and Arnold came close but the referee brought them back.  Again they went for touch, again Darren O’Shea secured the ball and the maul was formed.  While they crossed the line the referee awarded a penalty try which no longer needs a conversion and showed a yellow card to the Ospreys lock Nensadze for collapsing the maul. 

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Darren secures the lineout and the maul forms around him just prior to the first try

Tadhg capitalised on his absence in the lineout to steal their throw in.  Peter won another turnover cleaning a player off the ball as Munster were rampant. 

Although Ospreys were next on the board with a penalty kick when Cloete was penalised, the second Munster try was special.  Ross O-Carroll Kelly will be crying to see Joey score his first try in red but for those of us there it was an exciting counter-attack and a lovely piece of skill.  Davies put in a cross field kick for his winger to attack but Joey came on to it at pace from the defensive line, weaving a path between Allen and Hook to touch down for his first Munster try .  Players and supporters celebrated as he calmly focused on his conversion kick.

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Conway conceded a penalty when he mistimed his tackle on James Hook, hitting him before he had landed.  It looked worse in slow motion but the referee did not refer to the TMO and the Ospreys kicked to touch.  Munster again poached their lineout as Beirne batted the ball down.  However, Arnold got caught in possession and Davies had a second kick at goal which was successful to make it 14-6.

Conway chased the restart and got his timing spot on.  The cavalry arrived and won the turnover through the captain.  Cloete was almost in but when he was tackled it was James Cronin who plucked the ball out of the mass of bodies and touched it down against the posts to score the third try.  The conversion was a simple affair and it was 21-6 by the end of the sinbinning period.

Duncan Williams played well, linking with both backs and forward to keep the tempo up on the artificial surface.  Munster ended the half strongly, parked in the opposition 22.  Cloete won another turnover.  Ospreys were warned about discipline when trying to defend the maul so it was no surprise when their other lock Adam Beard was shown a yellow card just before half time.  The maul this time could not be legally stopped and it was Rhys Marshall who benefitted, scoring his second try in two weeks.  Joey maintained his 100% kicking record and Munster went in at half time with the bonus point secured on a scoreline of 28-6.

During the break the victorious Cork ladies camogie team were presented and there was an interview with Kieran Donaghy who was involved with the new pitch but I could not hear what was being said.  The minis featured two girls teams and they scored some nice tries.  I wonder what they made of the new surface.  Before the game the pitch was officially opened by Simon Coveney which we had watched on the big screen.

Munster again made their numerical advantage count in the opening minutes of the second half.  A high tackle on Joey Carbery was kicked to touch and the maul dragged by Peter O’Mahony at the front crossed the line.  Rhys peeled off with Duncan in support to claim his second try of the night.  After the conversion Munster were 35-6 to the good with just 44 minutes played.

An intercept by Peter put Munster back on the attack, through Goggin, Carberry and Sweetnam.  When Darren was tackled, Arno Botha was there in support to power his way through and claim his first try for Munster.

Another successful conversion, this time from the opposite side of the pitch made it a good evening for the latest heir to ROG.

Andrew Conway was busy throughout, he made a good break up the wing before Cloete took it on.  Shortly after, another good kick chase by Conway resulted in the Ospreys carrying the ball back over their line giving Munster a 5m scrum.  Arno dragged the defence over the line but could neither ground nor pass the ball.    

Conway challenged for the garryowen but could not get to it in the congestion.  The ball bounced and was gathered by Luke Morgan who had a clear run to the line.  Davies maintained his 100% kicking to make it 42-13 with just under twenty minutes to go. 

Munster responded well to score through Darren Sweetnam after excellent work by Keatley and Botha to break the line.  The former hurler (to be read in an ironic tone) used his excellent footwork to finish it off closer to the posts.  Keatley added the conversion.  Kilcoyne, Ryan and Sherry had been heavily involved in the build-up also.  Unfortunately Ryan was injured, meaning Stephen Archer had to return as John was helped from the pitch.   

When Archer had to leave for a HIA on 74 minutes it was strange to see Kleyn pack down in the front row for a change, all 6‘8” of him!  Of course, without a front row specialist it was for an uncontested scrum as Munster finished the game with 14 players.  James Cronin had been ready to return but was not allowed by the officials I believe.

There were a few exciting moments in the closing stages; Dan Goggin made a great break.  Moments later, Hart came even closer to scoring after a great break by Tommy (after another turnover by Cloete) but the defender managed to drag him down short of the line.  Dan Goggin tried again for the score to bring Munster over the half century in the closing minutes as did Keatley and Killer but eventually Munster were penalised for holding on in the tackle to bring the game to an end.

Credit to Tadhg on his impressive home debut on his first start for Munster, another contender for MOTM as he so often was last season in the other red jersey.

The stats from ESPN are here   I was surprised to see that Ospreys had also won a lot of turnovers from Munster so there is room for improvement to avoid giving possession away too cheaply to be exploited by stronger opposition.  

Highlights:

Post match interview with Johann on eir was interesting to see how he is looking at the workload for players in the season ahead and making substitution calls as a result

Match reports from The42.ie, Irish Examiner and Irish Independent plus excellent analysis from ThreeRedKings  Dan was singled out for praise in this report by Johann 

MUNSTER: 15. Mike Haley, 14. Andrew Conway, 13. Sammy Arnold (Jaco Taute 52′) , 12. Dan Goggin, 11. Darren Sweetnam, 10. Joey Carbery (Ian Keatley 58′), 9. Duncan Williams (James Hart 64′); 1. James Cronin (Dave Kilcoyne 49′), 2. Rhys Marshall (Mike Sherry 57′), 3. Stephen Archer (John Ryan 49′), 4. Tadhg Beirne (Jean Kleyn 52′), 5. Darren O’Shea, 6. Peter O’Mahony (captain) (Tommy O’Donnell 58′), 7. Chris Cloete, 8. Arno Botha. 

OSPREYS: 15. James Hook, 14. Tom Williams (Hanno Dirksen 68′), 13. Joe Thomas, 12. Cory Allen (Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler 58′), 11. Luke Morgan, 10. Sam Davies (James Ratti 74′), 9. Tom Habberfield (Matthew Aubrey 58′); 1. Rhodri Jones (Nicky Smith 68′), 2. Scott Baldwin (Ifan Philips 49′), 3. Tom Botha, 4. Giorgi Nemsadze, 5. Adam Beard, 6. Olly Cracknell (captain), 7. Morgan Morris (Guido Volpi), 8. Sam Cross.

The A team had a great win in Wales in the second round of the Celtic Cup on a winning scoreline of 7-52.  You can check out Daryl’s photos from Swansea  here

I will be in Coppers next Friday night to cheer on Munster in Cardiff – their third week in a row to play on artificial surfaces and hopefully the first win on the road for the team before the inter-pros start with the visit of Ulster.  Might see some of you in MRSC Dublin’s new home for the game.

This made me smile during the week and wonder how Ross felt seeing Joey move to top point scorer for Munster after 3 games.  Maybe we’ll start singing about the fields of Athy instead of Athenry to help him settle in even better 🙂

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Saw it in Coppers: Glasgow: 25 – Munster: 10

Glasgow’s first half performance brought us face to face with the reality that there remains plenty of room for improvement especially on the road this season to unseat them at the top of Conference A.  Glasgow enjoyed 86% possession in the opening 34 minutes – a sobering stat and while Munster turned it around to dominate the second half they could not turn that pressure into enough points to overcome the deficit.  Credit to Glasgow for their resolute defence, especially when they repelled 22 phases of Munster attack in the 58th minute.  Indeed it took Munster almost 20 phases again when they managed to get over the line for their only try so they were made to work hard for everything.

I could not bring myself to watch even the highlights of the game on TG4 afterwards and I expect there will be a tough review session for the team on Monday.  Injuries to Billy Holland and Neil Cronin did not help in the first half.

It was good to see Tadhg Beirne come on at half-time and he brought a lot to the team.  Interestingly he went in to the back row.  The scrum and maul improved considerably in that half giving Munster more attacking opportunities.  It was good to see Jaco make his return from injury also.

Earlier that day I had enjoyed reading Rhys Marshall’s player diary in the Indo where he mentioned his rivalry with his cousin, the backrow for Glasgow.  Both of them got on the scoresheet but bragging rights will remain with Callum for another while, at least until they visit Thomond in October.  Mind you the referee thought he had seen some foul play involving Callum early in the game but the TMO could not find any footage so play continued.

GLASGOW WARRIORS: Stuart Hogg (Niko Matawalu, 73); Tommy Seymour, Nick Grigg, Peter Horne, DTH van der Merwe; Adam Hastings (Alex Dunbar, 63), George Horne (Ali Price, 54); Oli Kebble (Jamie Bhatti, 59), Fraser Brown, (George Turner, 50) Zander Fagerson (D’Arcy Rae, 63), Rob Harley, Jonny Gray, Ryan Wilson (Matt Fagerson, 70), Callum Gibbins, Adam Ashe (Scott Cummings, 54).
MUNSTER: Mike Haley; Darren Sweetnam, Sam Arnold, Rory Scannell (Jaco Taute, 64), Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan (Joey Carbery, 43), Neil Cronin (Duncan Williams, 35); Dave Kilcoyne (James Cronin, 56), Mike Sherry (Rhys Marshall, 48), John Ryan (Stephen Archer, 41); Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland (C)(Fineen Wycherley, 25); Dave O’Callaghan (Tadhg Beirne, 41), Tommy O’Donnell, Arno Botha.

One of the highlights was a super break by Sam Arnold but unfortunately he could not get the pass to a supporting player as he was tackled.  Holding Glasgow scoreless from the 37th to the 73rd minute when Hogg kicked a penalty their only score of the half showed the character of the team.  Denying Glasgow a bonus point may make a difference at the end of the season, plenty of rugby to be played in the meantime, starting with the visit of Ospreys next Friday.  Hope to see some of you there.

Match reports from The42.ie, ThreeRedKings, Irish Examiner and Irish Independent

Post match views from Johann: The42.ie

Stats from ESPN are here and highlight how much a game of two halves it was with Munster enjoying 79% of the territory in the 2nd half but only 15% in the first.  The wind was a factor also.

stats GLAvMUN

Highlights

On a happier note Munster A got their campaign off to a winning start in the new Celtic Cup competition.  Match report here

Could we be more culchie?

The Dublin branch of MRSC have a new home this season in Copperface Jacks.  I arrived before 7 to attend the AGM.  For the medium size crowd expected they were in an upstairs room with couches, tables, high and low stools.  As Kevin said it was like being in someone’s living room except there were about 35 supporters there and no complaints from the neighbours about the noise!  I volunteered to join the committee where my bus organising skills from a few seasons ago may come in handy as there are plans afoot to run a bus to the Connacht game.  I suggested running one to the European home games in October and December as both are 1pm starts.  outside Coppers

The red couches, red lighting on the stairs and in the ladies (can’t say if it was the same in the gents :-))  made us feel at home!  The TV looked very smart in a frame and the commentary from the attendees was lively.  The referee came in for a lot of comments most of which cannot be repeated here.  We cheered on players by name as we would if we were on the terrace but sadly there were not too many opportunities for celebrating scores.  It was nice to catch up with some of the regulars and discuss travel plans to the European pool games and indeed the RWC2019.  You can follow MRSC Dublin on Facebook or Twitter  This blog is also on Facebook and Twitter or you can enter your email to subscribe and receive an email whenever a new post is available.  Thanks for reading and especially for any comments / likes and shares.