Munster became the first team to play in 100 Celtic or Magners League matches at Murrayfield on Friday night and they achieved the feat in some style by gaining a four-try 35-9 win over a disappointing Edinburgh side.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, May 4
Edinburgh (9) 9 MUNSTER (16) 35, Murrayfield (Att: 3,129)
Scorers: Edinburgh: Pens: Phil Godman 3
Munster: Tries: Denis Fogarty, Paul O’Connell, Alan Quinlan, Penalty try; Cons: Ronan O’Gara 3; Pens: Ronan O’Gara 3
Munster’s recent resurgence continued at the home of Scottish Rugby, helped in no uncertain terms by a try-scoring man of the match performance from fit-again captain Paul O’Connell and a superb kicking display from Ronan O’Gara.
Watched closely by Ireland assistant coach Niall O’Donovan, O’Connell showed no ill-effects of the thumb injury which he sustained during the Six Nations championship.
Munster got off to the ideal start when referee Phil Fear awarded them a penalty try in the sixth-minute. The province thrust forward off a solid lineout grab by Mick O’Driscoll, but Edinburgh players were seen to be deliberately bringing down the maul and a penalty try was the decision.
O’Gara converted but rocked by the early concession of a try, Edinburgh came more and more into the game and carved out a try-scoring chance for Scotland international Simon Webster. However, Tomas O’Leary, who is Argentina-bound later this month, got across to produce an excellent cover tackle and deny the flying winger.
Out-half Phil Godman managed to knock over a brace of penalties – after 13 and 17 minutes – as Munster were guilty of coughing up turnover ball. Edinburgh were also sniffing around for their first try and were unfortunate not to follow up on a break from centre Ben Cairns, who did well to find a hole in the Munster rearguard.
Declan Kidney’s visitors then added to their tally with O’Gara’s first penalty of the evening from 35 metres out. They were struck a blow when lock O’Driscoll was sin-binned but rallied themselves when centre Barry Murphy kicked ahead and almost got in for a try, just knocking on as he went for the whitewash.
O’Gara kicked his side 10-6 in front before Godman replied, after Ireland call-up Brian Carney had been whistled up for not releasing at a ruck.
Restored to 15 men, Munster had the better of the remaining minutes of the first half. Edinburgh’s Scotland-capped flanker Simon Taylor saw yellow for killing the ball at a ruck and having heaped pressure on the hosts’ scrum, Munster went seven points clear when O’Gara split the posts from 40 metres.
Munster had their second sin-binning at the start of the second half when Carney was banished to the touchline for tackling Lucio Lopez Fleming while the ball was still in the air.
But a subsequent penalty miss from Godman just about summed up Edinburgh’s evening. The out-half’s disappointment was compounded when, just minutes later, the Munster pack rumbled forward and pushed the returning O’Connell over the line, with O’Gara brilliantly swinging over the conversion from the touchline.
Anthony Horgan almost got over for Munster’s third try after good work by Murphy, but the score did come on 56 minutes when O’Gara chipped over the top for flanker Alan Quinlan to score under the posts and allow his number 10 an easy convert.
Now 30-9 ahead, Munster’s victory was assured and a fourth try followed when Denis Fogarty, on as a replacement for Frankie Sheahan at hooker, crashed over for his first try of the season and only the third of his Munster career.
The win, following the recent home successes against the Scarlets and the Dragons, sees Munster reside in sixth place heading towards the final weekend of league matches. Edinburgh were “outmuscled” by Munster, according to the Scots’ coach Lynn Howells, and Kidney’s men will look to perform a similar job at Musgrave Park next Saturday when on-form Glasgow are the visitors.
MUNSTER: Brian Carney; Anthony Horgan, Barry Murphy, Lifeimi Mafi, Ian Dowling; Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary; Federico Pucciariello, Frankie Sheahan, Tony Buckley, Mick O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell (capt), Alan Quinlan, John O’Sullivan, Anthony Foley.
Replacements used: David Wallace for O’Sullivan (half-time), Mossie Lawlor for Carney (53 mins), Denis Leamy for Foley (61), Foley for Wallace (67), Denis Fogarty for Sheahan (69), Jeremy Manning for O’Gara, Brian O’Meara for O’Leary, Frankie Roche for Pucciariello (all 75).
EDINBURGH: Lucio Lopez Fleming; Rob Dewey, Ben Cairns, Matt Dey (P Godman 57 min), Simon Webster R Rennie 69 min); Phil Godman (Duncan Hodge 46 min), Greig Laidlaw (J Senio 64 min); Allan Jacobsen, Andrew Kelly (D Hall 59 min), Geoff Cross ( A Dickinson ht); Alasdair Strokosch (F Pringle 56 min), Scott Murray capt; Simon Taylor, Alan MacDonald S Cross 64 min), Allister Hogg.
Replacements used: Alasdair Dickinson for Cross (half-time), Duncan Hodge for Godman (46 mins), Fergus Pringle for Strokosch (56), Godman for Dey (57), Dougie Hall for Kelly (59), John Senio for Laidlaw, Simon Cross for MacDonald (both 64), Ross Rennie for Webster (69).
Referee: Phil Fear (Wales)