Planet Rugby

Munster get the better of Scarlets

18th December 2011 12:09

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Conor Murray  Munster v Scarlets  Heineken Cup

Man of the Match: Conor Murray

Munster consolidated their position at the top of Pool One in the Heineken Cup after a 19-13 win over the Scarlets at Thomond Park.

Veteran fly-half Ronan O'Gara's goalkicking proved valuable for the hosts - he contributed 14 points, via four penalties and a conversion - while their only other points came through a try by James Coughlin.

The Scarlets gave a good account of themselves, especially during the latter stages of the second half when they were chasing the win, but in the end Munster's experience helped them grind out victory to maintain their prefect record in Pool One.

The Welsh region, who started the match with Stephen Jones at fly-half and Rhys Priestland at full-back, held their own for most of the first half.

This period was a dour affair as both teams preferred to play conservatively.

There was hardly any action of note, although Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies caught the eye with some impressive line breaks.

O'Gara opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a penalty, after Scarlets' Jon Edwards was penalised for not releasing.

Jones levelled the scores within ten minutes when Munster infringed at the scrum deep in their own territory.

It would remain all square until five minutes before half-time, but Davies was proving a real threat for the visitors.

O'Gara's penalty on 35 minutes following an infringement at the scrum put Munster 6-3 up at the interval, with Jones missing the chance to boot the Welsh side level before half-time.

Minutes after the restart O'Gara's third penalty attempt of the afternoon missed, but he quickly got another opportunity from a similar position, and was this time on target to make it 9-3 to Munster.

Then, on 52 minutes, the hosts struck a hammer blow after Edwards had been sin-binned for Scarlets.

Following a Munster line-out the ball was charged forward, with James Coughlan eventually blasting his way over from short range for a try.

O'Gara added the conversion to make it 16-3.

Rhys Priestland was on target with the boot for Scarlets to reduce the deficit and, although O'Gara restored the 13 point advantage shortly after with another penalty, Ken Owens' try following a swift move from the scrum made it 19-13.

But there was to be no further score from Scarlets, with Munster holding on to record a fourth Heineken Cup win.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Try: Coughlin
Con: O'Gara
Pen: O'Gara 4

For Scarlets:
Try: Owens
Con: Priestland
Pen: S Jones, Priestland

Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Johne Murphy, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Lifeimi Mafi, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Niall Ronan, 6 Denis Leamy, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Denis Fogarty, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Donnacha Ryan, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Tomas O'Leary, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Danny Barnes.

Scarlets: 15 Rhys Priestland, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jon Edwards, 6 Rob McCusker, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Rhys Thomas, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Phil John, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Sione Timani, 20 Kieran Murphy, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Gareth Maule, 23 Viliame Iongi.

Referee: Dave Pearson

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