Scarlets 10 Munster 6
Munster fell to a narrow 10-6 defeat against the Scarlets but they will look back on this game with a lot of regret as they dominated possession and territory for long periods.
Munster had a good opportunity in the opening minutes when a botched lineout from the Scarlets saw Rhys Marshall collect and drive towards the visitors’ line. However, Arno Botha knocked on from a few metres out to give the Welsh side possession with a scrum.
From the resulting setpiece, the Scarlets were penalised and this allowed Bill Johnston to give Munster a 3-0 lead with a kick at goal in front of the posts.
Scarlets didn’t take long to hit back when a break from Leigh Halfpenny saw Ioan Nicholas touch down in the corner after a superb one-handed offload from Johnny McNicholl. The try was converted by Halfpenny to give the home side a 7-3 lead.
Scarlets suffered a blow when they lost Dan Davis to injury when his head collided with Rory Scannell’s when the Munster man took the ball into contact.
Munster put the Scarlets under a sustained period of pressure for the remainder of the half but they were thwarted close to the line on more than one occasion from either through poor ball security at the ruck or unforced errors.
The visitors did narrow the deficit to one point on the stroke of halftime when a Scarlets player was penalised for playing the ball in an offside position. This allowed Johnston to kick three points to give the Scarlets a narrow 7-6 lead going in at the break.
At the beginning of the second half, Jean Kleyn was penalised for not rolling away and this gave the Scarlets a sustained period of possession in the Munster 22 which ultimately resulted in Halfpenny adding three points in front of the posts to extend their advantage to 10-6.
Munster looked to have taken the lead at the midway point of the second half but Jean Kleyn’s grounding was chalked off because Rhys Marshall impeded a potential tackle on the South African in the build up.
The southern province came close once again but Arno Botha’s attempt at a grounding went forward and yet another chance was missed.
The visitors huffed and puffed for the final 10 minutes and they had one last opportunity in their opponents 22 only for the ball to be knocked on once again.
Munster: Mike Haley; Ronan O’Mahony, Dan Goggin (Taute 64′), Rory Scannell, Darren Sweetnam; Bill Johnston (Bleyendaal 67′), Alby Mathewson; Jeremy Loughman (O’Connor 65′), Rhys Marshall (O’Byrne 64′), John Ryan (Archer 59′); Jean Kleyn (O’Shea 65′), Billy Holland (captain); Fineen Wycherley, Conor Oliver (O’Donoghue 53′), Arno Botha.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Liam O’Connor, Stephen Archer, Darren O’Shea, Jack O’Donoghue, Neil Cronin, Tyler Bleyendaal, Jaco Taute.
Scarlets: Leigh Halfpenny, Ioan Nicholas, Kieron Fonotia, Paul Asquith, Johnny McNicholl, Dan Jones (Patchell 54′), Kieran Hardy (Hidalgo-Clyne 72′), Wyn Jones (Phil Price 69′), Ryan Elias (Jones 69′), Werner Kruger, Josh Helps (Price 68′), Lewis Rawlins, Josh MacLeod, Dan Davis (Phillips 17′), Uzair Casseim.
Replacements: Marc Jones, Phil Price, Javan Sebastian, Tom Price, Tom Phillips, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Rhys Patchell, Steff Evans.