Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: T. Visser 3. Pens: Laidlaw. Munster: Tries: Keatley, O’Dea. Cons: Keatley 2. Pens: Keatley 3.
Coach Michael Bradley sent out close to his full-strength side, Scotland youngsters Matt Scott and Tom Brown, and Fijian No 8 Netani Talei among the few missing. By comparison, Munster pitched up without Test backs Ronan O’Gara, Conor Murray, Keith Earls, Felix Jones and Simon Zebo, and forwards Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, Marcus Horan and Donnacha Ryan, and were piloting a new future without five retired internationalists including Jerry Flannery and David Wallace.
What they showed at Murrayfield, however, was that the understanding of how to maintain shape and belief under pressure and take chances when they come runs deep in the south of Ireland. Munster pounced decisively to score a try just before the interval and another on the hour – enough to put victory just out of Edinburgh’s reach.
Edinburgh had promised much with a fine Nick De Luca break after seven minutes and Visser’s first try five minutes later, the winger finishing off another slick training-ground move with a sprint into the left corner.
Edinburgh’s downfall lay in their inability to grip the game through phases by holding on to ball and playing in Munster’s half long enough to force real pressure. However, Visser scored his second in the 29th minute after sterling work by Ross Ford and Ross Rennie in defence, and a scintillating counter-attack by Stuart McInally. The Dutch winger took an excellent De Luca pass to score a third with six minutes of the game left.
Munster’s first try was lucky, a hopeful chip by Howlett bouncing wickedly away from Laidlaw and into Keatley’s hands that brought Munster level, 10-10, at the break. But Edinburgh had only themselves to blame for the soft try grasped by Luke O’Dea after an hour and the penalties that Keatley turned into a further six points.
Visser’s third score could have sparked a winning comeback but mistakes at crucial moments sabotaged the hard work and Edinburgh ran out of time.
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).
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).