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After shaky start Munster carve out deserved victory over the Scarlets


Guinness PRO14:
Munster 19, Scarlets 7
THERE were a share of controversial moments but tonight’s game in Thomond Park was certainly enjoyable. The Scarlets should have been more ahead than the two point advantage they enjoyed at the break, but Munster switched up a gear in a frenetic second period to lead 12-7 going into the final minutes. The home side finished the job in the dying minutes when Alex Wooton scored their third try. The TMO was a busy man throuoghout, the home side coming out on the wrong side of some decisions.
Injury to Tommy O’Donnell in the second half may now rule him out of the Toulon game next Saturday with the player holding his shoulder as he left the field.
It was a good win for Munster and there were some good performances from man of the match Robin Copeland, Sammy Arnold, James Hart and JJ Hanrahan that put them in the frame for a start against the French.
Trailing 5-7 at the break, Munster needed a decent start to the second half. With so many changes, they looked off the pace in that opening 40 minutes and they could consider themselves lucky not to be further behind. after soaking up further pressure near their own line, Munster suddenly burst into action. Robin Copeland intercepted to set up a frantic attack at the other end of the field and after a number of phases the man who will play in the colours of Connacht next season forced his way over with Keatley’s conversion pushing Munster into a 12-7 lead. Adding to Munster’s woes, Tommy O’Donnell picked up a shoulder injury that saw him replaced on 48 minutes.
The Scarlets appeared to have a ‘gung-jo’ approach when it came to attacking the Munster rearguard. Their passing was swift and accurate but there were times when they over-elaborated. A massive tackle by Robin Copeland on Patchell set up another Munster try chance. James Cronin got in for the touchdown but the TMO again disallowed the score, much to the frustration of the home support.
Munster finished in style, Alex Wooton getting in at the corner and Ian Keatley kicking the conversion for a 19-7 lead.
It was another slow start for Munster, soaking up early Scarlets’ pressure, and they conceded a try after six minutes. Munster-bound Tadhg Beirne made the initial break inside his own half, the ball was swept through the hands and scrum-half Aled Davies was at the end of that flowing move to touch down near the posts. Rhys Patchell converted with ease and the Welsh had the perfect start with the seven point lead. Their kicking too long and sometimes inaccurate, the home side struggled to get any attacking platform and they went through a period of desperation as the Scarlets threatened to score again.
It was one-way traffic but a poor pass close to the home line was intercepted by Alex Wooton, the TMO ruling out the try for a knock-on. The Scarlets continued to impress when they opened up the play but for all of their superiority the seven points were the only ones registered on the scoreboard. It was 23 minutes before Munster got into an attacking position inside the Welsh 22. Penalty, lineout and maul later, scrum-half James Hart squeezed over for a well-taken try but Ian Keatley’s conversion slipped wide of the left hand post, Mayorstone end.
A fine break down the left wing under the East Stand by Jack O’Donoghue brought the home crowd to their feet, the ball was knocked on and the sides went in with Munster trailing 5-7.

Munster: JJ Hanrahan; Calvin Nash, Sammy Arnold, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton; Ian Keatley, James Hart; Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland (C); Jack O’Donoghue, Tommy O’Donnell, Robin Copeland.
Replacements: Niall Scannell, James Cronin, Stephen Archer, Gerbrandt Grobler, Dave O’Callaghan, Jack Stafford, Stephen Fitzgerald, Dan Goggin.
Scarlets: Tom Williams, Tom Varndell, Scott Williams, Paul Asquith, Steff Evans; 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Aled Davies; Dylan Evans, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee; Tadhg Beirne, David Bulbring; Aaron Shingler, James Davies, Will Boyde.
Replacements: Emyr Phillips, Phil Price, Werner Kruger, Lewis Rawlins, Josh Macleod, Jonathan Evans, Dan Jones, Steff Hughes

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