Heineken Cup: Munster 33 - 0 Edinburgh: dinburgh slide to pointless start
EDINBURGH can forget a repeat of last year’s heroics as they plumbed the Heineken Cup depths for the second week in a row against revitalised Munster yesterday.
Muster: Tries: Murray, P. O’Mahony, Dougall, Varley. Cons: Keatley 2. Pens: Keatley 3.
Although Munster sometimes made heavy weather of putting a well rattled Edinburgh (robbed of their injured conductor Greig Laidlaw and scoring talisman Tim Visser) to the sword, they were always much too good for the beleaguered Scots, who suffered their second successive Heieneken shutout following the 45-0 home capitulation to Saracens.
Although there could be only one winner, for long periods it looked as if the two-times champions would hobble to victory. In the end, they found their feet and finished with a ruthless streak that yielded three tries in the last ten minutes and gave them a priceless bonus point victory to add to the losing point they rescued from Stade de France the previous week.
For Edinburgh, who have now conceded nine tries in two matches, it is going to be a long haul with no hope of qualification at the end of it. Anything resembling an improvement might be the best they can hope for. Qualification for the Amlin Cup would be a miracle outcome.
Munster dominated the opening stages, building on a third-minute penalty goal to secure much-needed territory through the boot of Ian Keatley and
prospering through a powerful scrum and the pilfering of Paul O’Connell at
lineout time. With two lineout steals on Edinburgh’s throw and a dominant scrum, Munster had so much possession and territory as to keep the visitors on the back foot for much of the half.
However, Michael Bradley’s side were still well in the game at the quarter mark, having survived scares when Munster’s Donncha O’Callaghan was just beaten by the bounce of the ball after Keatley’s cross kick, and again after the stand-off screwed an easy penalty attempt wide.
Keatley atoned with his second penalty after 23 minutes and wasn’t far away when launching a brave attempt at goal from ten metres inside his own half. Of the two teams, Edinburgh will have been much more pleased when referee Wayne Barnes called an end to 40 minutes of rather average fare in front of a surprisingly muted home crowd. Munster’s dominance continued after the break but they scorned a try-scoring opportunity three minutes in when
BJ Botha’s surge for the line – after 12 phases – failed and Edinburgh managed to sneak a turnover.
Having turned possession over four times in quick succession, Munster were relieved to see a bit of it rub off on the visitors. Greig Tonks’ massive clearance went all the way down the pitch and dead, Munster won the scrum and, from the resultant play, Conor Murray straightened up to run 15 metres and dive in under the posts to give Keatley a simple conversion and a 13-point lead.
As Munster continued to rule, Keatley knocked over another penalty and the visitors had to wait for an age to get their first foothold in the Munster half but even that was brief.
An already disrupted Edinburgh back division had to be alterated again when Gregor Hunter went off to be replaced by Dougie Fife. The substitute moved to full back with Tonks moving to the No 10 position and, while Edinburgh battled well to salvage something, there was
little they could do off the back of irregular and often poor possession from the forward exchanges.
Munster could even afford to replace the iconic Paul O’Connell – to the dismay of the crowd – after 60 minutes before then replacing captain Doug Howlett to give long-time injured Felix Jones his first big run in six months.
But this Munster pack continued to show a mean streak in playing keep ball and Peter O’Mahony scored a 71st minute try that Keatley converted.
Straight from the kick-off, Munster surged forward again, with Paddy Butler’s explosive run, carried on by Keatley, paving the way for Sean Dougall’s second try of the tournament and a 28-0 advantage, agonisingly one try away from a bonus point.
That agony disappeared in injury time when Munster worked their way into Edinburgh territory with a penalty and substitute Damian Varley charged over from the back of a maul, much to the delight of the home crowd. It could yet prove to be a priceless score in the months ahead and particularly in the double-header against pool favourites Saracens in December.
Munster: D Hurley; D Howlett (captain), C Laulala, J Downey, S Zebo; I Keatley, C Murray,; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, BJ Botha; D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell; D Ryan, P O’Mahony, S Dougall. Subs. B Holland for O’Connell (61), D Varley for Sherry(62), JJ Hanrahan for Downey, F Jones for Howlett (both 65).
Edinburgh: G Tonks; L Jones, N De Luca, B Atiga, T Brown; G Hunter, R Rees; J Yapp, R Ford, G Cross; G Gilchrist, S Cox (captain); D Denton, N Talei, S McInally. Replacements. M Scott for Atiga (12, injured), W Nel for Cross (40), D Basilaia for Talei (52), D Fife for Hunter (64, injured), R Hislop for Yapp (75), A Titterell for Ford, R McAlpine for Cox (both 76).
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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