Munster got the better of Coventry in their opening British & Irish Cup clash at Butts Stadium on Friday, helped on their way by unconverted tries from Duncan Williams, James Coughlan, Tom Gleeson and Ian Nagle.
BRITISH & IRISH CUP – POOL B: Friday, November 20
COVENTRY 13 MUNSTER 20, Butts Stadium
Scorers: Coventry: Tries: Scott Roberts, Joe Merrigan; Pen: Joe Carlisle
Munster: Tries: Duncan Williams, James Coughlan, Tom Gleeson, Ian Nagle
Scrum half Duncan Williams led the charge for Munster as the province, coached by Anthony Foley and Ian Costello, kickstarted their British & Irish Cup bid with a battling four-try win over Coventry.
Most of the damage was done in the first half, and Munster got off to an ideal start in the third minute when Williams dotted down after full-back Felix Jones and winger Danny Barnes created an opening down the right wing. Barnes did particularly well on a 40-metre burst.
Out-half Declan Cusack, who had an off night with the boot in difficult conditions, missed the conversion and did likewise after number 8 and captain James Coughlan had rumbled over from close range for a 13th minute try, following a series of Munster mauls.
Coventry got off the mark when out-half Joe Carlisle landed a penalty but it was the home side’s only successful place-kick from six attempts on the night.
Carlisle made a superb break, covering 40 metres, but failed to convert the resulting penalty and Munster moved further ahead when a Cusack-inspired attack was finished off by centre Tom Gleeson who comfortably covered the 30 metres to the line.
Just two minutes into the second half, Coventry coughed up possession at a lineout and Williams and Scott Deasy before hard-working lock Ian Nagle was sprung for Munster’s fourth unconverted try.
Coventry, however, showed great spirit to bounce back and claim a losing bonus point. They secured two pushover tries from lineouts, scored by Scott Roberts and former Connacht and Ireland Under-21 hooker Joe Merrigan.
Mike Walls, formerly of Connacht, and ex-Belfast Harlequins lock Louis McGowan also lined out for Coventry, while Munster flanker Nick Williams and Coventry’s Ross McMillan and Benjamin Dechartres all saw time in the sin-bin during a lively second half.
COVENTRY: Ollie Winter; Simon Frewin, James Lewis, Chris Lewis, Will Hurrell; Joe Carlisle, Mike Walls; Kevin Davis, Ross McMillan, Rob Dugard, Arthur Brenton (capt), Louis McGowan; Sam Herrington, Richie Bignell, Henno Venter.
Replacements used: James Hall for Dugard, Scott Roberts for Davis, Benjamin Dechartres for McGowan (all half-time), Phil MacKenzie for Lewis, David Askew for Herrington (both 56), Joe Merrigan for McMillan (62), James Thomas for Carlisle (68).
MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Danny Barnes, Tom Gleeson, Scott Deasy, Denis Hurley; Declan Cusack, Duncan Williams; Julien Brugnaut, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer, Ian Nagle, Dave Foley, Nick Williams, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan (capt).
Replacements used: Dave Kilcoyne for Archer (half-time-42 mins), Kilcoyne for Brugnaut (52), Paul Rowley for Williams (56 mins), Sean Henry for Sherry (70), Simon Zebo for Cusack (73), Peter O’Mahony for Coughlan (75), Dave O’Callaghan for Williams (78), Andrew Burke for Jones (80).
Referee: David Bodilly (Wales)