Munster ran in three second half tries to overcome Heriot’s on a 34-7 scoreline at Musgrave Park and qualify comfortably for the semi-finals of the inaugural British & Irish Cup.
BRITISH & IRISH CUP – POOL B: Friday, March 12
MUNSTER 34 HERIOT’S 7, Musgrave Park
Scorers: Munster: Tries: Mike Sherry, Dave Kilcoyne, Danny Barnes, Nick Williams, Sean Scanlon; Cons: Declan Cusack 2, Jeremy Manning; Pen: Declan Cusack
Heriot’s: Try: Max Nimmo; Con: Graham Wilson
Anthony Foley’s Munster side never hit top gear but they did not have to as they finished off their British & Irish Cup Pool B campaign with their fifth straight win.
Early tries from front rowers Mike Sherry and Dave Kilcoyne set them up for a 15-7 half-time lead, with winger Max Nimmo replying for the Edinburgh-based visitors.
But there was one-way traffic for long stretches of the second half and the hosts killed off the game with tries from winger Danny Barnes, number 8 Nick Williams and replacement Sean Scanlon.
Munster edged ahead thanks to a sixth minute penalty from out-half Declan Cusack and Sherry rumbled over off a forward drive, five minutes later.
Kilcoyne muscled his way over just three minutes later, having earlier been held up over the line, with Cusack’s successful conversion making it 15-0.
However, Heriot’s, who are bottom of the pile in Pool B, rallied well before the break with Nimmo finishing off an excellent try in the right corner. Team captain Graham Wilson added the conversion and was narrowly wide with a penalty attempt soon after.
Munster seized back control when Barnes blasted his way over and Cusack sent a well-struck conversion over from the touchline, ten minutes into the second half.
Replacement Marc Teague made some eye-catching darts as Heriot’s tried to get back into contention, and the visitors enjoyed a good run of possession.
It took some quality defending from the likes of Nick Williams and skipper Peter O’Mahony to halt two Heriot’s attacks, after they had turned down kickable penalties.
Having weathered that particular storm, Munster finished the stronger and grabbed two late tries, the first coming from Nick Williams in the 70th minute after he blocked down Teague’s attempted clearance.
Scanlon sealed the deal with a fifth try, using his pace to finish off a well-executed attack from the Munster backs, with fellow replacement Jeremy Manning.
Speaking afterwards, Munster coach Foley said: “The game was a lot tighter (than the scoreline suggests), but we will take it and I’m happy because we had to be patient to break Heriot’s down.
“I suppose we allowed ourselves to play the way they wanted us to play at times, but we recognised what was happening and took the required action. When we upped the game of the game, we looked pretty good.”
As Pool B winners, Munster join the Cornish Pirates (Pool A), Ulster (Pool C) and Doncaster Knights (Pool D) in the semi-finals of the inaugural British & Irish Cup.
The semi-final draw is scheduled to be made on Wednesday, March 24.
The first and third teams drawn will receive home advantage in the semi-finals, which will be played over the weekend of April 23-25.
A further draw will then take place between the two semi-finals to determine which of the potential finalists will have home advantage if they progress to the final (Sunday, May 16).
MUNSTER: Danny Riordan; Danny Barnes, Mike Kelliher, Scott Deasy, Ciaran O’Boyle; Declan Cusack, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer, Dave Foley, Ian Nagle, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony (capt), Nick Williams.
Replacements used: Sean Scanlon for Riordan (54 mins), Jeremy Manning for Cusack, Sean Henry for Sherry, Neville Melbourne for Holland (all 58), Conor Murray for D Williams, Pa O’Regan for Kilcoyne, Ed Kelly for Foley (all 74).
HERIOT’S: Colin Goudie; Jonny Alston, Peter Saunders, Richard Mill, Max Nimmo, Greig Rutherford, Graham Wilson (capt); Alan Dymock, Scott Burnett, Wullie Blacklock, Philip O’Connor, Chukwuma Osazuwa, Peter Eccles, Chris Fusaro, Jamie Syme.
Replacements: Finlay Gillies, Cameron Bruce, John-Patrick Ward, Neil Meikle, Marc Teague, Andrew Douglas, Michael Goldie.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)