Edinburgh 18 - 23 Munster: New faces, but same old story
EDINBURGH may have fielded a host of new faces but the capital club displayed all their old failings in going down to a Munster side that was a shadow of the full-strength side that will appear when the Irish internationals are eventually released back to their provinces.
Edinburgh (10) 18
Tries: Visser 3Pens: Laidlaw
Munster (10) 23
Tries: Keatley, O’DeaCons: Keatley 2Pens: Keatley 3
It was a deeply disappointing performance from the home team that had promised much in the run-up to this league campaign but delivered little enough when it mattered most.
“We got a nice start,” said coach Michael Bradley, “but in a game like this and against opposition like that it was important that we didn’t let them back in as easy as we did. It was 10-3 just three minutes before half time. We were turned over in our own 22 and we showed a lack of composure.
“Then in the second half we chased a box kick and both chasers went past the ball and they got good field position from that and scored under the posts. It was not good play by us. In the past we might have said that that was a good Munster team but we are disappointed not to win. I think we created more opportunities that they did but we didn’t finish them.”
While Edinburgh started brightly enough, Munster grew into this game as it progressed and, throughout the second half the visitors bossed events with the home side looking leg-weary long before the final whistle ended their evening. Even a hat-trick of tries from Tim Visser was not enough to save the hosts from the pain of a home defeat on the opening weekend.
You can’t keep a good (Dutch)man down. His first try arrived after just 12 minutes and came straight off the training-room blackboard. Nick de Luca made the dummy run, Greig Laidlaw pulled the ball back to Greg Tonks and the fullback showed a decent turn of pace up the left flank before asking the big Dutchman to finish things off. The second was entirely unexpected as Munster were in the ascendant. Somehow Edinburgh’s pocket battleship Ross Rennie stole the ball under his own posts and offloaded to Stuart McInally, who ran the ball out of defence, beat two tackles and made good ground before passing to Visser, who beat Ian Keatley’s cover tackle and ran in from 60 yards.
The third one came with just six minutes left on the clock and it set up a thrilling finish to the match as Edinburgh went in search of the try that would have given them, at the very worst, a share of the spoils.
The Munster defence creaked in places but somehow the thin red line held firm for the win and Edinburgh were left with just the one losing bonus point.
Uncharacteristically for him,
Laidlaw was unable to make good any of the three touchline conversions but the little standoff did sterling work elsewhere especially after Munster’s new signing Casey Laulau pole-axed De Luca in a bone crunching tackle and came off much the worst.
The loose ball was hacked up field and the Edinburgh skipper was first to react, securing the possession on the deck and allowing Lee Jones to clear his lines. They breed them tough in New Zealand and after some attention Laulau returned to the fray and continued to be the most dangerous player in a red shirt.
After the first quarter, the home side appeared to be largely in control of events. The scrums were a mess but still the new-look Edinburgh front row appeared to have the upper hand. David Denton and Grant Gilchrist carried tirelessly and De Luca was his usual self, wayward in places but his offload for Visser’s third try was brilliant.
The new man Tonks played his part at fullback, his huge left boot looks a real asset, and the one time Munster’s big men attempted to maul the ball, the home eight stopped them dead in their tracks. The fact is that Edinburgh probably matched Munster up front and still lost the game.
Worryingly for the home supporters, Munster finished the first half level with Edinburgh, all ten points going to Keatley who finished the game with 18 to his credit. First, the flyhalf knocked over a simple penalty after Stuart McInally had infringed under his own posts. Then the same man was on hand to collect the kind bounce from Doug Howett’s chip kick and dive over the Edinburgh line for a try, that he converted, just before the half-time break.
Two minutes into the second half Keatley gave the visitors for the first time in the match with his second penalty attempt and Edinburgh constantly found themselves on the rough end of the referee’s whistle.
Edinburgh had their chances.
Rennie blotted his copybook by ignoring the supporting Richie Rees and kicking the ball away after making a clean break but at least Edinburgh were on the attack once more.
Visser and Tonks combined well on the left flank without breaching the line this time. Laidlaw kicked one promising-looking penalty into touch for an attacking lineout which went nowhere but the skipper did the needful with a much easier attempt a little later to leave the two teams tied at 13-13 with half an hour to play.
With the match finely poised, it was Munster who struck the first blow with a try from winger Luke O’Dea who took advantage of some soft midfield defence to score directly from a lineout.
Keatley kicked that conversion and added another penalty, his third of the match, on 70 minutes.
It proved just enough despite Visser’s heroics at the other end of the field.
Edinburgh: Tonks, Jones, De Luca, Atiga, T. Visser, Laidlaw, Rees, McInally, Rennie, Denton, Cox, Gilchrist, Nel, Ford, Yapp.
Replacements: Houston for Atiga (65), Jacobsen for T. Visser (51), Leck for Rees (61), Basilaia for McInally (61), Parker for Gilchrist (68), Cross for Nel (51), Titterrell for Ford (61). Not Used: Hunter.
Munster: D. Foley, Howlett, Laulala, Downey, O’Dea, Keatley, Williams, du Preez, Varley, Botha, D. O’Callaghan, Holland, Butler, Dougall, Coughlan.
Replacements: Dineen for Laulala (65), Stringer for Williams (73), Kilcoyne for du Preez (56), Sherry for Varley (51), D. Foley for Butler (65), O’Mahony for Dougall (72). Not Used: Archer, Deasy.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: West