Edinburgh 10-22 Munster: Home side pay the price for slow start

Edinburgh lost more ground on the top three in Pro14 Conference B as a much-improved second-half performance was not enough to compensate for the shortcomings of the first 40.

Edinburgh's Bill Mata tries to find a way through against Munster. Picture: Bruce White/SNS
Edinburgh's Bill Mata tries to find a way through against Munster. Picture: Bruce White/SNS

Richard Cockerill’s side scored through Bill Mata after the break, with Jaco van der Walt adding the conversion to his first-half penalty. But they had trailed 17-3 at half-time as Munster dominated physically, and while they had more chances to score late on in the contest, there was no denying that the better team won.

There were a couple of positive aspects of the evening for the home side in debuts for prop Boan Venter and 19-year-old centre Matt Currie, but an injury to Andrew Davidson, pictured inset, in the final seconds of regulation time brought the game to a dispiriting close. There was no immediate word on what was wrong with the lock.

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Edinburgh took the lead through a Van der Walt penalty after the Munster defence had strayed offside. But they were unable to build on that advantage despite some promising possession, and a JJ Hanrahan penalty brought the conference leaders level after quarter of an hour.

Andrew Davidson is leaving Edinburgh to join Gloucester next season. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS

Midway through the half, Davidson looked sure to score after a good break by Eroni Sau, but he was held up over the Munster line and the ball was lost forward after the ensuing five-metre scrum. The visitors then came almost as close to scoring when a Jack Blain kick close to his own line was charged down, but Henry Pyrgos was on hand to clear the danger.

The pressure on Edinburgh kept building, and eventually the Irish province made it count. Gavin Coombes drove from the base of a scrum to get close, Craig Casey took it on, and a few phases later Jack O’Donoghue finished off by spinning over the line.

Hanrahan converted to take his team into double figures, and just before half-time added another two points after Casey had grabbed his team’s second try of the night from close to the line.

That made it 3-17 at the break, and Edinburgh knew they would have to get the first score of the second half to have any chance.

They got it too, with Mata crossing from a lineout maul and Van der Walt converting.

Munster dominated up front for a time after that, and they got their third try when Casey broke off the back of a maul and Coombes finished off. O’Hanrahan’s conversion attempt came back off a post, leaving the lead at a dozen points.

Edinburgh were far from finished, and they looked sure to score when they had a series of penalties deep inside the Munster 22, scrumming each one. But the penalty that counted went Munster’s way when the home scrum failed to hook, and the Irishmen were generally in control after that, their only dissatisfaction of the evening being the failure to score a fourth try and go home with the bonus point despite an effort that went deep into time added on.