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Eagles’ Wings Clipped By Impressive Munster

Eagles’ Wings Clipped By Impressive Munster

Anthony Horgan scored the only try of the game as Munster added the scalp of the USA Eagles to their already impressive list of international teams that they have beaten.


USA EAGLES 6 MUNSTER 10, Toyota Park, Chicago (Att: 8,260)

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Scorers: USA Eagles: Pens: Mike Hercus 2
Munster: Try: Anthony Horgan; Con: Paul Warwick; Pen: Paul Warwick

Horgan’s 53rd-minute effort was the decisive score as Munster defied the athletic Americans and the warm conditions to triumph at the resplendent Toyota Park.

Coach Declan Kidney included four new caps from the off, with former Leinster players Kieran Lewis and Niall Ronan starting at inside centre and openside flanker respectively, and Gerry Hurley and Paul Warwick combining as new half-backs.

They each acquitted themselves well, particularly Ronan who showed well in defence and attack and it was Munster’s defensive prowess which laid the platform for this encouraging win.

Both Lewis and Ronan, obviously fired up to put down a marker with their new side, made some eye-catching tackles in the early moments as the World Cup-bound Eagles got on the front foot.

Peter Thorburn’s hosts seemed determined to impress with the World Cup less than a fortnight away and they had the game’s first scoring chance in the tenth-minute when Munster lock Mick O’Driscoll, in his 100th game for the province, infringed at a ruck.

But Mike Hercus’ penalty kick was narrowly wide and Munster gained some precious territory with former Connacht ace Watwick kicking well off his right side.

His half-back partner Hurley was called on in the 16th-minute to sweep up a chip kick that American full-back Chris Wyles had dinked dangerously ahead. At the other end, a well-weighted crossfield kick from Warwick almost saw a leaping O’Driscoll get in for a try but the Irish international was bundled into touch.

Hercus nailed a 26th-minute penalty to belatedly open the scoring following an infringement from John O’Sullivan and the Eagles then had their best spell with bustling winger Takudzwa Ngwenya going close to crossing the visitors’ whitewash.

Ngwenya looked set to touch down after good approach work from the US backs and Henry Bloomfield, who battered his way down the right flank. However the slick build-up work was undone when the Zimbabwean-born wide man, who can run the 100 metres in 10.5 seconds, knocked on with the try line just metres away.

After Hercus had landed his second penalty six minutes before the break, Ngwenya had a chance to atone but again his handling let him down and Munster ended the half strongly.

Looking confident at set piece time, Munster’s best try-scoring chance of the half arrived late on when a break from Lifeimi Mafi led to John Kelly angling his way towards the line, yet referee Andrew Small called play back as he penalised O’Sullivan for crossing in the build-up.

A well-timed tackle from Wyles on Warwick, who grew in stature as the game progressed, kept Munster out again as the Eagles held onto their 6-0 lead for the interval.

The introductions of Tomas O’Leary, Denis Hurley and Ian Dowling on the restart saw Munster up the tempo for the second half.

Warwick immediately reduced the gap as he pinged his first penalty through the uprights in the 42nd-minute. That score settled Munster and their back line came more and more into the game, with much of the forward thrust coming through the fleet-footed Mafi.

It was an inviting pass from the New Zealander teed up Horgan for the all-important try. O’Leary and Jeremy Manning led an attack down the left wing, Mafi took the ball on and found Horgan who did brilliantly to swerve inside and out past the tackle of full-back Wyles and then stretch over to score.

The try was topped off by a superb touchline conversion from Warwick and Kidney’s side were armed with a 10-6 lead.

Munster had to be on their toes though and it took a great Ronan tackle to stop Hercus in his tracks after the hosts had beaten the first line of defence.

The Americans did win a subsequent penalty which they opted to kick to touch and once again Munster’s stubborn defence held out, thwarting the lineout maul and pushing their opponents back in the scrum.

A traditional Munster maul almost saw the visitors chalk up try number two. Their lead was a far from convincing one, although as time ticked on, the men in red’s grip on the game tightened with tries just eluding the likes of Manning and Horgan.

Captain for the tour Anthony Foley, who was his usual workmanlike self, picked up the Setanta Sports Challenge Cup soon after the final whistle to crown what has been a very beneficial trip for Munster. Their pre-season schedule continues on Friday, September 7 with the visit of Alan Gaffney’s Saracens to Musgrave Park.

USA EAGLES: Chris Wyles; Salesi Sika, Paul Emerick, Vaha Esikia, Takudzwa Ngwenya; Mike Hercus (capt), Chad Erskine; Mike MacDonald, Blake Burdette, Chris Osentowski, Luke Gross, Mike Mangan, Louis Stanfill, Todd Clever, Henry Bloomfield.

Replacements used: Matekitonga Moeakiola for MacDonald (59 mins).

MUNSTER: Mossie Lawler; John Kelly, Lifeimi Mafi, Kieran Lewis, Anthony Horgan; Paul Warwick, Gerry Hurley; Federico Pucciariello, Denis Fogarty, Tony Buckley, Donnacha Ryan, Mick O’Driscoll, John O’Sullivan, Niall Ronan, Anthony Foley (capt).

Replacements used: Tomas O’Leary for Hurley, Darragh Hurley for Pucciariello, Denis Hurley for Lawler, Ian Dowling for Kelly (all hal- time); Jeremy Manning for Denis Hurley (46) mins), James Coughlan for O’Sullivan (80+3).

Referee: Andrew Small (England)