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What’s that coming over the hill?

header “Is it a monster? Is it a monster?” It’s definitely not the evergreen Donncha O’Callaghan showing any signs of being over the hill!  Captain for the night Donncha may not be as fresh-faced as he was in the program below from 2003 but he showed he still has a lot to contribute.  Also seen coming over the hill were more of the next generation of Munster players, not least Rory Scannell making his first senior start at 12 and Ronan O’Mahony who made a good impact from the bench along with Johnny Holland whose conversion was crucial.  It was also a huge test for John Ryan propping against former Lion Adam Jones.  The experience gained by those players in the recent British and Irish Cup games stood to them.

A youthful Donncha on the program scanned in by Sean Ryan https://www.flickr.com/photos/tippryan/15676345302/

A youthful Donncha on the program scanned in by Sean Ryan.  See the full program at the link above

An early penalty (for not rolling away) got Munster on the scoreboard but Rhys Patchell cancelled out the advantage five minutes later when Copeland was penalised for being offside.   A kicking duel followed: 3-6, then 6-6, 6-9, 6-12.  At one stage Andrew Smith made three consecutive tackles, showing tremendous workrate.

A solid Munster scrum went wrong when the ball came out too quickly, Duncan Williams was tackled as he tried to scoop it up, JJ dived on the ball but was penalised for holding on and Patchell brought the score to 9-12.  A high tackle on Duncan Williams earned Munster another penalty in the Cardiff half and JJ kept up his 100% record to make it 9-15, 32′ into the game.  A box kick by Duncan Williams was chased hard by Andrew Conway who tried to bundle the huge #8 Vosawai into touch by the half way line but even with the help of Billy Holland he managed to twist out of their grasp.  Their scrumhalf Williams offloaded beautifully to Patchell who had Argentinian winger Lucas Amorosino on his shoulder who raced through to touch down.  We watched the replay several times, convinced there was a forward pass right on the 22m line from Patchell but the TMO had no issue awarding the try.  As the US commentary team for the next game (USA v New Zealand) said when the All Blacks scored their first try, the silver lining was that it was in the corner making the  conversion difficult, and so it proved which meant that Munster still held a narrow one point lead (14-15).  As an aside there was a lot of talk on twitter giving out about that US commentary team explaining all the rules etc., but we were not their intended audience.  Hopefully it will raise the profile of the sport in the US.

Rory Scannell got quick ball off a lineout and made some ground before quickly laying back the ball when tackled.  Williams passed it to Robin Copeland who fended off a tackler to make a great break and Munster should have scored a try through Stander but the Cardiff defence scrambled well so Munster had to settle for a penalty to go to 14-18 as half time approached.  It was Munster’s turn to scramble and concede a penalty for not releasing when #14 Richard Smith made a good line break.  The resultant penalty went wide.  Maybe Patchell was distracted by the crowd applauding off an injured player just as he went to kick the ball or maybe it was the wind which we were told during the interval was against Cardiff in the first half.  It had not been obvious watching the game with both kickers doing well despite it but would a four point buffer be enough for Munster when Cardiff would have the wind behind them for the second half?

Kicking King JJ Hanrahan (archive photo from Daryl's collection

Kicking King JJ Hanrahan (archive photo from Daryl’s collection https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfeehely)

The second half’s turning point was a series of scrums close to the Munster line but for some reason TG4 decided not to include any of that in their highlights package, starting their second half coverage on 59′ so I could not see it again.  From memory, Munster had the put in to the scrum but Cardiff drove them back to win the penalty.  They opted for another scrum and won another penalty from it.  When the referee spoke to BJ and Donncha I feared it would be a threat of a yellow card / penalty try but whatever BJ said in his defence the referee agreed to move to that side of the scrum.  Munster launched experienced hooker Eusebio Guinazu from the bench on 51′ and miraculously Munster managed to turnover the ball when Cardiff decided to break from the back of the scrum only to run straight into the Munster front row (like a game of Red Rover).  Munster cleared the ball and while Cardiff still had possession via the lineout the danger was repelled.

A super kick by Gareth Davies pinned Munster back almost on their own 5m line.  Poor control in the lineout resulted in a knock on by Copeland and a scrum to Cardiff.  Manoa Vosawai the deserved man of the match, broke from the base of the scrum.  Cathal Sheridan grabbed him by the leg to slow him down, but neither JJ nor Paddy could stop his momentum that close to the line.  Davies kicked the conversion and Cardiff finally took the lead 21-18 on 63′. From his own half JJ Hanrahan kicked low and long and sent the Cardiff players back towards their own 5m line.  An excellent chase by Ronan O’Mahony kept them under pressure until the cavalry arrived and earned an important penalty for Munster when Cardiff’s Smith held onto the ball.  JJ kicked for touch.  In the resultant lineout no one jumped for the ball but Copeland took it on and Munster went through multiple phases before earning another penalty when the Cardiff defence went offside.  Sheridan kicked through but neither Scannell nor O’Mahony could get to it before it went over the line.  However advantage was still with Munster so they went back for the penalty and JJ made it 7/7 to tie the scores again at 21-21 with 11 minutes left.  We all had a smile when on 72′ there was a drop goal attempt by Adam Jones which wasn’t a bad effort for a prop!  He got a good laugh out of it as Cardiff did have advantage and Davies kicked a much more orthodox penalty to make it 24-21.

Munster did not let their heads drop.  Cardiff cleared the ball almost out of their half but Gerhard van den Heever collected it and set off on a mazy run bringing Munster deep into the 22  Butler took it on next, then Ronan O’Mahony made some ground, Johnny Holland got a nice pass to Andrew Smith who carried the attack forward, Stander was next up before Sheridan got quick ball to Paddy Butler who spotted a gap, dummied a pass and went through to score.  Johnny Holland’s conversion was important as it ensured that Cardiff needed to score a try and not just a penalty in the 90s remaining.  It looked like he had missed the target but it curled in perfectly to give Munster a 4 point cushion.  Cardiff had possession.  Donncha made his tackle and somehow Rory Scannell came away with the ball.  Munster needed to keep possession for another 30s and that is what they did, with Stephen Archer taking it on, then CJ Stander retained possession despite being lifted in the air and carried by 2 Cardiff players.  Archer again took it into contact again before Stander made one final carry.  Once Cathal heard the referee say time was up he booted it out and Munster got over the hill and back into the top 4. I enjoyed the ambience in the Halloween themed Break for the Border with the MRSC Dublin folks.  There was a good crowd there for a league game.  With all the last-minute dramatics they may need to install a defibrillator!  I had not seen a full game on Sky this season and was surprised to see they even showed the Referee stats before the game – number of penalties and cards.  Prior to kickoff the teams lined up while the bugler played in honour of Remembrance Day.  After attending 8 games in 6 weeks (2 A team games) it was a change to be watching in a pub.  I spotted Babs on TV even though she was not wearing THE dress while that another twitter follower Les tweeted that he was also captured on the big screen.  Comments from folks who were there would be great!

Not a great photo of the gang in Break for the Border

Not a great photo of the gang in Break for the Border

October was a great month for views so thanks for the shares and retweets.  James was thanked in person for his recent RT and I asked Kevin and Jim why they can’t do the same?  Twitter accounts for about 14% of views and it is not that the retweets drive up readership so much but it is encouraging to see that people like it enough to bother to share.  Special shout out to Patrick Hogan who regularly posts links to the blog on Boards.ie which has contributed about 900 views to the total.  If anyone has any suggestions on how to get more readers please send your suggestions by commenting or email me at WTView@live.ie  Thanks to my friend Phyllis who tells me she is including the details in her Christmas cards to family and friends in Australia and America! I was shocked to check the Match stats when I got home as it had felt like Munster had even less possession and territory in the 2nd half:

Stats were surprising. Maybe they will update them but according to this Munster had more possession than I thought: http://www.espn.co.uk/scrum/rugby/match/233275.html

Stats were surprising. Maybe they will update them but according to this Munster had more possession than I thought: http://www.espn.co.uk/scrum/rugby/match/233275.html

Munster: Johne Murphy, Andrew Conway, Andrew Smith, Rory Scannell, Gerhard van den Heever; JJ Hanrahan, Duncan Williams; John Ryan, Kevin O’Byrne, BJ Botha; Donncha O’Callaghan – capt, Billy Holland; CJ Stander, Paddy Butler, Robin Copeland Replacements: Eusebio Guinazu, Alan Cotter, Stephen Archer, Sean McCarthy, Barry O’Mahony, Cathal Sheridan, Johnny Holland, Ronan O’Mahony

Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Richard Smith, 13 Adam Thomas, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Lucas Amorosino, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lloyd Williams; 1 Sam Hobbs, 2 Matthew Rees (c), 3 Adam Jones, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Filo Paulo, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Josh Navidi, 8 Manoa Vosawai Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Taufa’ao Filise, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Garyn Smith, 23 Dan Fish

Great minds think alike: 

ROG in the Irish Examiner: In last week’s column, I wrote that the crowd support was the important factor and they didn’t disappoint. It’s a basic, simple ingredient at any level of sport, being driven by the home fans. Not just attending and sitting there but actually participating and in Munster that’s what laid the platform for so much success.

That reads very like what I wrote in my About section of this blog 2 years ago!

Donncha told me in Manchester airport that his daughters wanted him to dress up as Tigger for Halloween so this picture is for the weekend that is in it

Donncha told me in Manchester airport that his daughters wanted him to dress up as Tigger for Halloween so this picture is for the weekend that is in it

Very short official highlights including Sky advert!

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5 comments on “What’s that coming over the hill?

  1. Delighted for Donncha, just finished his autobiography last week and last night the team “Played like Tarzan and not Jane” !!!!

  2. Cheers Liam, thanks for the explanation provided offline: A great line from the autobiography was from Declan Kidney when the team played poorly at half-time that “lads you train like Tarzan all week, but play like Jane in the first half” which I though was brilliant : Munster trained and played like Tarzan on Saturday !!!

  3. From Les Who was in Cardiff via twitter: “it was pretty windy out there not obv on TV, it strengthened 2H in their favour. Andrew Smith tackled superbly”

    Also from twitter: “A very well thought out and accurate blog once again. A very enjoyable read.”

  4. Good to see a new crop of young players coming through. Expected more from the forwards on Saturday but still happy with the win

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