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CJ saves Munster’s blushes with trade-mark winning try

Guinness PRO14 Championship:
Munster 25, Edinburgh 23
IN the end of tonight’s exciting Guinness PRO14 inThomond Park, a CJ Stander try proved to be the difference between the two teams. Edinburgh will return home with regrets after leading for most of the game but they can feel proud of a performance that almost produced a surprise result. Munster were somewhat off the expected form when they have home advantage and they once again had to rely on the boot of Ben Healy, who kicked seven out of his eight attempts at the sticks, to carve out a win.
Trailing by two points at the break, Rhys Marshall saved a certain try with a brave tackle on centre George Taylor on 44 minutes and four miutes later it was the visitors who added to their tally when Jaco van der Walt kicked a close-in penalty to put Edinburgh into a 12-17 lead. The same player was shown yellow and two further penalties from the boot of Healy saw Munster go back into the lead by a single point, 18-17.
Conor Murray came in for man of the match Craig Casey on 62 minutes but a brace of penalties from Mark Bennett set up an exciting finale with Munster snatching victory at the death thanks to that Stander try and Ben Healy kicking the winning points for the second week in succession.
This Munster performance will give the coaches plenty to muse upon. There were some fine individual performances but it took the old reliable penalty, lineout, maul to deprive Edinburgh of a sweet victory.
Munster were sloppy at times in the opening 40 minutes as they trailed 12 points to 14. They had plenty of possession, they had some chances but that cutting edge to their play was missing. Edinburgh were stubborn in defence, their pack was well prepared for whatever the reds could throw at them on the two of the three occasions that the Scots got close to the home five metre line, they delivered with tries.
Ben Healy continued his impeccable kicking form and it was his four penalties that accounted for his side’s 12 points at the break. Jack O’Donoghue went close to scoring a try for Munster but it was ruled out by the TMO. The back-row hared after a kick though and the decision to disallow the touchdown was close but correct. Two penalties in the opening six minutesfrom Healy gave Munster the perfect start but Edinburgh showed they were here to put on a good show when they replied with a converted try.
Forcing their way into the Munster 22, they set up a maul and when it looked as if the home side had prevented progress Mark Bennett hared over past two attempted tackles. Jaco van der Walt added the extras and the visitors led 7-6 at half time.
Munster: Mike Haley, Andrew Conway, Alex McHenry, Rory Scannell, Matt Gallagher; Ben Healy, Craig Casey; Jeremy Loughman, Rhys Marshall, John Ryan; Fineen Wycherley, Tadhg Beirne, Jack O’Donoghue, Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander (Capt).
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin, Roman Salanoa, Gavin Coombes, John Hodnett, Conor Murray, Jack Crowley, Dan Goggin.
Edinburgh: Damien Hoyland; Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett, George Taylor, Duhan van der Merwe; Jaco van der Walt, Nic Groom; Rory Sutherland, Stuart McInally (Co-captain), WP Nel; Ben Toolis, Grant Gilchrist (Co-captain); Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Nick Haining.
Replacements: Mike Willemse, Pierre Schoeman, Simon Berghan, Andrew Davidson, Mesulame Kunavula, Dan Nutton, Nathan Chamberlain, James Johnstone.
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU, 185th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher, Peter Martin (both IRFU)
TMO: Joy Neville (IRFU)

-Aidan Corr

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