CORNISH PIRATES 23 MUNSTER 14, Recreation Ground, Camborne
Scorers: Cornish Pirates: Tries: Steve Winn, Rhodri McAtee; Cons: Jonathan Bentley 2; Pens: Jonathan Bentley 3
Munster: Try: Danny Barnes; Pens: Declan Cusack 3
Munster's six-match unbeaten run in the cross-border competition came to an end as Cornish Pirates lifted the title thanks to a productive first half.
Munster out-half Declan Cusack narrowly missed two early penalty chances - first to the left and then to the right - and his opposite number Jonathan Bentley also failed to convert his first shot at the posts.
The Munster forwards threatened thee try-line with a forceful maul but Pirates flanker Dave Ward, the eventual man-of-the-match, produced a timely turrnover to keep the home line intact.
But a 17th minute try from centre Steve Winn, converted by Bentley, settled the hosts' nerves and showed just how dangerous they can be, having enjoyed a sustained period of possession.
Cusack cut the gap with a well-struck penalty, following by a first Bentley and another from the Thomond clubman who rewarded his forwards for some impressive play at close quarters.
However, the Pirates did some serious damage coming up to half-time. Tricky winger Nick Jackson was causing problems and the Cornish side's powerful pack won a five-metre scrum, from which captain Gavin Cattle and full-back Wes Davies swept the ball wide for winger Rhodri McAtee to dot down.
You got a sense that it might be the Pirates' day when New Zealander Bentley knocked the touchline conversion through the uprights and punished a ruck offence, late in the half, to make it 20-6 for half-time.
Cusack kicked his third penalty to get Munster up and running in the second period, but the home side continued to shade most of the key areas and only some mishandling from Cattle and number 8 Blair Cowan prevented them from adding a try.
Munster full-back Sean Scanlon showed his attacking quality when making a pacy break. Jackson got across to bundle him into touch, just as an overlap opened up.
The Munster forwards, with skipper Peter O'Mahony, Mike Sherry and Billy Holland as industrious as ever, upped their game too, but the Pirates would not give way.
A 35-metre penalty from Bentley, on the hour mark, saw the English Championship outfit regain their half-time advantage of 14 points and Munster were almost out for the count.
To their credit, Anthony Foley's men rallied and they got over for a deserved try in the dying minutes when winger Danny Barnes made it over in the corner. The conversion was missed and Munster were left to reflect on a disappointing weekend for the province's senior and 'A' sides.
Speaking after the game, Munster team manager Mick Galwey said: "In fairness, Cornish Pirates came at us very strongly and deserved their lead at half-time.
"It was a big learning experience for our young guys - the average age was 22. We've had great success in the British & Irish Cup this season but it was just a step too far."
CORNISH PIRATES: Wes Davies; Rhodri McAtee, Mark Ireland, Steve Winn, Nick Jackson; Jonathan Bentley, Gavin Cattle (capt); Carl Rimmer, Rob Elloway, Alan Paver, Laurie McGlone, Ben Gulliver, Chris Morgan, Dave Ward, Blair Cowan.
Replacements used: Mike Myerscough for McGlone (52 mins), Sam Betty for Elloway (57), Paul Andrew for Rimmer (62), James Doherty for Cattle, Ryan Storer for Cowan, Tom Luke for Davies (all 79). Not used: Matt Evans.
MUNSTER: Sean Scanlon (UCC); Danny Barnes (Dolphin), Tom Gleeson (Cork Constitution), Jeremy Manning (Cork Constitution), Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution); Declan Cusack (Thomond), Duncan Williams (Cork Constitution); Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians), Mike Sherry (Garryowen), Stephen Archer (Cork Constitution), Dave Foley (UL Bohemians), Ian Nagle (Cork Constitution), Billy Holland (Cork Constitution), Tommy O'Donnell (UL Bohemians), Peter O'Mahony (Cork Constitution) (capt).
Replacements used: Dave Ryan (Dolphin) for Kilcoyne (half-time), David O'Callaghan (UCC) for Nagle, Paddy Butler (Shannon) for O'Donnell (both 62 mins), Ronan O'Mahony (Garryowen) for Cusack, Conor Murray (Garryowen) for Williams (both 65), Mike Kelliher (Richmond) for Zebo (79). Not used: Sean Henry (UL Bohemians).
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)