Munster snatched a late victory for the second week running after CJ Stander’s 76th-minute try saw them overcome PRO14 Conference B rivals Edinburgh 25-23 at Thomond Park.
Munster Academy fly-half Ben Healy capped his second senior start with a terrific 20-point kicking haul. The 21-year-old was the Irish province’s late goal-kicking hero away to Scarlets last week.
Edinburgh had looked on course for their first win of the new season, first-half converted tries from Mark Bennett and WP Nel raising hopes of repeating last year’s narrow triumph over the same opposition in Cork.
Trailing 14-12 at the break, Munster relied on two more Healy penalties to edge them in front, but they needed that elusive try from captain Stander to cancel out place-kicks from Bennett and Jaco van der Walt.
Tipperary youngster Healy had an assured opening to Munster’s first Thomond Park appearance since rugby’s restart. He banged over two well-struck penalties, rewarding the efforts of Stander and Jeremy Loughman at the breakdown.
Munster’s own indiscipline allowed Edinburgh to build for an opening 12th-minute try. Grant Gilchrist knocked on a few metres out, but the visitors came again and centre Bennett broke in between Alex McHenry and debutant Matt Gallagher to score to the right of the posts.
Van der Walt’s conversion dispatched, Damien Hoyland did very well to reach Rory Scannell’s kick through ahead of the chasing Jack O’Donoghue as Munster hunted for a try in response.
The TMO review went Edinburgh’s way, but a third Healy kick restored Munster’s lead midway through the half.
On the half-hour mark, beefy Edinburgh prop Nel touched down past Rhys Marshall and John Ryan after an equally strong carry from Stuart McInally. Van der Walt’s conversion was followed by a late fourth Healy penalty, which came after another display of Tadhg Beirne’s breakdown ability.
Tonight's Player of the Match after another fantastic performance is @CraigCasey9 🙌🙌🙌
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) October 10, 2020
Early in the second period, Andrew Conway’s scrambling tackle took away a certain try from Edinburgh centre George Taylor.
A Van der Walt penalty did make it 17-12, only for Healy to quickly hit back after a high tackle on Craig Casey.
Van der Walt then saw yellow for a high tackle on his opposite number Healy, who gratefully took the three points on offer for an 18-17 scoreline.
However, a D’arcy Graham break inspired the 14-man Scots, and a Bennett kick nudged them back in front with 14 minutes remaining.
Having watched Healy suffer his first penalty miss, the returning Van der Walt extended Edinburgh’s advantage in the 73rd minute.
Richard Cockerill’s men were denied a famous win, though, as Stander, with James Cronin on the latch, burrowed over for Healy to convert.
Cardiff Blues go two from two
Cardiff Blues made it two wins from two at the start of the new PRO14 season and inflicted a first defeat on a Connacht side who never really got going in the 29-7 loss.
Connacht’s trip to Wales on the day of the game looked like it played a part as they were sluggish in the first half with the Blues scoring through Hallam Amos and the boot of fly-half Jarrod Evans.
Andy Friend’s men failed to register a point before the break but did score through Conor Oliver in the second period.
They did not make the most of an opposition yellow card and Amos’ second was the game’s crucial score before a penalty try and one from Kristian Dacey gave the Blues a bonus point.
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) October 10, 2020
Elsewhere, defending champions Leinster ran in four tries as they defeated Benetton 37-25 at Stadio di Monigo to continue their winning start in the PRO14.
Two early penalties from Ross Byrne put the visitors in front before Benetton winger Iliesa Ratuva was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.
James Tracy touched down off the back of a rolling maul to give Leinster their first try after 18 minutes, which Byrne converted.
The Italians responded as Sebastian Negri crossed, Paulo Garbisi adding the conversion, but Leinster winger James Lowe went over from close range to make it 17-12 at the break.
Epalahame Faiva put more pressure on the visitors when he powered in a try soon after the restart, only for Garbisi to miss his kick for the extra points.
In the 56th minute, Leinster were awarded a penalty try when Jack Conan could not apply downward pressure before Byrne dropped another successful penalty.
Although Gianmarco Lucchesi touched down again for Benetton late on to move within five, James Ryan put the result to bed with another try after 78 minutes to secure the bonus point.
Ospreys come up short
Ulster captain Iain Henderson was sent off in the 75th minute but his side were deserved winners as Ospreys fell to an 11th defeat in their last 12 competitive matches in a 24-12 loss at the Liberty Stadium.
Henderson picked up a red card for charging into a ruck and making contact with the head of Dan Evans but by then Ulster were firmly in control of the match.
Jacob Stockdale, Marcell Coetzee and John Cooney had scored tries for the visitors, with Cooney adding three conversions and a penalty.
Four penalties from Stephen Myler was Ospreys’ response.