Both Christian Cullen and Mike Mullins made their comebacks from injury in Thursday's clash between Munster "A" and Leinster "A" at Roscrea RFC.
"A" TEAM FRIENDLY: Thursday, March 16
LEINSTER "A" 29 MUNSTER "A" 26, Roscrea RFC
Scorers: Leinster Tries: Greg Stafford, Ken Kennedy, Brendan Burke, Eoghan Hickey; Cons: Hickey 3; Pen: Hickey
Munster: Tries: Mark Melbourne, Ryan Hartigan, Anthon Pitout, Mossie Lawlor; Cons: Paul Burke 2, Lawlor
Former All Black Cullen started the game at full-back having missed most of the current season with a shoulder injury, while former Ireland international Mullins, back from an Achilles tendon injury, partnered Gary Connolly at centre. The fit-again duo lasted the guts of an hour with Cullen supplying the try-scoring pass for flanker Mark Melbourne's effort in the first half.
Both Cullen and Mullins have been registered by Munster for the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup.
In Roscrea, Munster began brightly with both Melbourne of Garryowen and UL Bohemians lock Ryan Hartigan crossing the Leinster whitewash in the first quarter. Paul Burke converted both tries. But Leinster, spurred on by their lively back line, scrapped well and took a lead which they never gave up.
Munster finished the stronger with replacement out-half Mossie Lawlor converting his own try for a 29-21 lead. Replacements Denis Hurley and Anthon Pitout combined for Munster's fourth try with the South African Pitout getting the touchdown, but Leinster, thanks to a well-worked Brendan Burke score, just minutes earlier, took the spoils.
UCD's Eoghan Hickey, playing at full-back, impressed for Leinster - scoring a try, three conversions and a penalty for a 14-point haul.
LEINSTER "A": Eoghan Hickey; Niall O'Brien, Greg Stafford, Ken Kennedy, Brendan Burke; Brian O'Meara (capt), Brian O'Riordan; John Lyne, David Blaney, Robert Sweeney, Ben Gissing, Richard Leyden, Simon Crawford, Niall Ronan, Kevin McLaughlin.
Replacements used: David McKechnie for O'Meara (15 mins), Nick Duffy for Byrne (half-time), Alex Dunlop for Leyden (50), Diarmuid Laffan for Ronan (60), Darragh Geraghty for O'Riordan (70).
MUNSTER "A": Christian Cullen; Brian Tuohy, Mike Mullins, Gary Connolly, Paul Devlin; Paul Burke, Mike Prendergast; Eugene McGovern, Frankie Roche, Tony Buckley, Brian Madigan, Ryan Hartigan, Mark Melbourne, Anthony Kavanagh, John O'Sullivan.
Replacements used: Frank Murphy for Prendergast, Mossie Lawlor for Burke (both half-time), Anthon Pitout for Mullins (57), Damien Varley for Roche, Denis Hurley for Cullen (both 60 mins).