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Munster show no mercy to their PRO14 South African visitors

By Aidan Corr
Thomond Park
Guinness PRO14 Championship:
Munster 38, Toyota Cheetahs 0
A WORKMANLIKE performance by Munster in this opening game of the Guinness PRO14 this afternoon, keeping the opposition scoreless and running in six tries
Three minutes into the second half, with Munstetr leading 12-0, the Toyota Cheetahs got a great chance of a score. Breaking from deep, they at last found open space and full-back appeared to out-paced the chasers but left wing Shane Daly made a try-saving tackle on full-back Malcolm Jaer almost on the line. Another chance beckoned when Munster were whistle at a ruck but out-half Tian Schoeman was off target for the second time in this game.
Johann van Graan rang the changes early with Sammy Arnold and Stephen Archer replacing Dan Goggin and John Ryan and a try chance was spurned when Mike Haley’s pass was off-target with Shane Daly clear on the left. Rhys Marshall came in for Sherry on 50 minutes as Munster set up a third try. They ran a close-in penalty and Tommy O’Donnell went through a gap for an easy touchdown with JJ Hanrahan’s conversion drifting wide of the right hand posts. The biggest cheer of the afternoon heralded the arrival on the field of Joey Carbery, who replaced Shane Daly.
Patient build-up by the pack saw scrum-half Neil Cronin go left and his pass to Billy Holland was perfectly time as the skipper went over only for the TMO to rule out the score. Darren O’Shea, Brian Scott and Gavin Coombes all got game time as Munster added a fourth try, JJ Hanrahan finishing off a fluent move, adding the conversion to push his team 24-0 to the good.
Neil Cronin had an outstanding game throughout and got appreciative applause when he left the field to be replaced by James Hart on 66 minutes. Dave O’Callaghan capped an impressive 80 minutes with a try, converted by JJ Hanrahan, to bring the lead to 31-0 and Darren Sweetnam intercepted a loose pass on halfway to run comfortably under the posts, converted by Hanrahan, as the South African challenge dwindled. 38-0 on 73 minutes.
The final minutes were just a case of damage limitation from the visitors with huge gaps appearing in their defence and there will be a lot of soul searching when they head for Wales in the morning.
The South African visitors played some lovely open rugby in the opening 40 minutes but just lacked the finish that could have given them scores.
Looking sharp from the off the Cheetahs had a lot of possession and it took Munster four minutes before they could get their hands on the ball in an attacking sense. There was nothing between the sides in those early skirmishes but the Cheetahs suffered a blow on 13 minutes when they lost their captain, openside Oupa Mohoje, with a leg injury. Right on the stroke of 14 minutes, Munster got the first score of the game. Darren Sweetnam jinked past two defenders after breaking a tackle and his sweet pass sent Rory Scannell over near the right hand corner, Ballynanty side of the ground. JJ Hanrahan’s conversion was well wide of the target. A double tackle by the two Cheetah wingers prevent a certain score with 23 minutes player, Maxwane and Small-Smith combining to bundle the impressive Darren Sweetnam into touch inches from the try line.
The Cheetahs looked lively when they got the ball wide but it was the home side that threatened next, Mike Sherry held up on the line. Arno Botha was having a great spell with three significant breaks, the TMO was called in to make a judgement and he ruled in favour of a touchdown by Dave Kilcoyne. JJ Hanrahan’s conversion pushed the home lead to 12-0 on 32 minutes.
On a perfect surface Munster were now taking all the correct options, their backline thriving on the quick supply of ball from the rucks and mauls. Half time, Munster 12, Cheetahs 0.
Scorers, Munster, tries Darren Sweetnam and Dave Kilcoyne, conversion JJ Hanrahan.
Munster: Mike Haley; Darren Sweetnam, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Neil Cronin; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland (C); Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell, Arno Botha.
Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Brian Scott, Stephen Archer, Darren O’Shea, Gavin Coombes, James Hart, Joey Carbery, Sammy Arnold.
Toyota Cheetahs: Malcolm Jaer; Rabz Maxwane, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Nico Lee, William Small-Smith; Tian Schoeman, Shaun Venter; Ox Nche, Jacques du Toit, Luan de Bruin; Justin Basson, JP du Preez; Junior Pokomela, Oupa Mohoje, Jasper Wiese.
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Aranos Coetzee, 19 Walt Steenkamp, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Ernst Stapelberg, 23 Ryno Eksteen.
Referee, Dan Jones (WRU, 15th competition game). Assisted by Craig Evans and Mark Patton. The TMO Simon McDowell.

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