Planet Rugby

Munster keep pressing for second

03rd May 2014 18:08

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SKY_MOBILE Conor Murray Munster

In-form: Conor Murray

A thumping 55-12 bonus point win over Edinburgh kept Munster in the hunt for second place in the PRO12 at Meggetland on Saturday.

An impressive seven-try showing ensured the province kept pace with Glasgow Warriors and took the race for second spot and the crucial home semi-final it brings with it down to the last day of the regular season.

For Edinburgh, the curtain was brought down on the career of Greig Laidlaw in the Scottish capital, who swaps Black and Red for Cherry and White next season, and can be reasonably pleased with his final home performance at Meggetland.

Indeed, it was the hosts who started the brighter, fly-half Carl Bezuidenhout bundling over in the corner after a fine midfield break and offload from Matt Scott.

With JJ Hanrahan very much in form with the boot and keeping the scoreboard ticking over early on, Munster soon regained the lead with a well-worked try from winger Andrew Conway, who capitalised on some characteristically soft Edinburgh defence to finish under the posts.

Denis Hurley was to do likewise after Willem Nel had burrowed his way over for a converted try for Alan Solomons' men. Hanrahan added his second penalty to give Munster a 20-12 half-time lead.

Though their tackling and line speed has proved more than a tad suspect this season, Edinburgh had just cause for optimism at the break. In the second forty, however, they fell apart. Their defence was as resilient as damp tissue paper, while their attack was stunted by errors and a dose of profligacy.

Replacement hooker Damien Varley dotted down off the back of a rolling maul in the shadow of the Edinburgh posts, before a monstrous scrum yielded a penalty try as the home pack were splintered and the back-row slipped their binds. Hanrahan converted both scores.

Another substitute, Duncan Williams, showed nimble footwork as he bagged number five off the back of fine support play and running lines, given a helping hand once more by dreadful Edinburgh defending.

A second penalty try was awarded as, with two men poised to score on the outside barely three metres from his own line, Grant Gilchrist slapped a pass to ground mid-air. The officials took an inexplicably long time to arrive at what was the correct decision, and the Scotland second-row was sent to the sin-bin for his troubles. This time it was Conor Murray who stepped up and knocked over the simple two points.

Openside Tommy O'Donnell rounded things off with the clock red, crashing over in the corner with Edinburgh's focus now more on the post-match festivities than defending their line. Murray put the icing on the cake with a super touchline conversion, and Munster - in true style - are not giving up the chance for a home semi-final without a real fight.

The scorers:

For Edinburgh:
Tries: Bezuidenhout, Nel
Con: Laidlaw
Yellow card: Gilchrist

For Munster:
Tries: Conway, Hurley, Varley, Penalty Try 2, Williams, O'Donnell
Cons: Hanrahan 5, Murray
Pens: Hanrahan 4

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Jack Cuthbert, 14 Tom Brown, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Carl Bezuidenhout, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Tomas Leonardi, 6 Mike Coman, 5 Dave Denton, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Al Dickinson
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Wicus Blauuw, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Dimitri Basilaia, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Piers Francis, 23 Sam Beard

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Johne Murphy, 12 Denis Hurley, 11 Andrew Conway, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Paddy Butler, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Paul O'Connell (c), 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 John Ryan, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Alan Cotter, 19 Dave Foley, 20 James Coughlan, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Luke O'Dea

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Ita)
Assistant referees: Peter Allan, Bob Nevins (both Sco)
TMO: Ian Ramage (Sco)

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