A first half penalty try, supplemented by 14 points from the right boot of Scott Deasy, steered the Munster ‘A’ team to a workmanlike 19-3 victory over Connacht ‘A’ at the Sportsground on Friday.
‘A’ INTERPROVINCIAL MATCH: Friday, October 21
CONNACHT ‘A’ 3 MUNSTER ‘A’ 19, the Sportsground
Scorers: Connacht ‘A’: Pen: Tadhg Leader
Munster ‘A’: Try: Penalty try; Pens: Scott Deasy 4
In overcast conditions, Nigel Carolan’s Connacht side took an early lead thanks to a penalty from Tadhg Leader who replaced Jack Carty at out-half.
With a crossfield wind proving tricky, Leader missed a second effort from long range before Munster’s Scott Deasy replied with his first successful penalty in the tenth minute.
Munster ‘A’ were typically strong in the set piece and following good work in the lineout three minutes later, Deasy kicked the visitors ahead for the first time.
Neither back-line could hit their stride in what was a stop-start first half, Ian Nagle’s aerial skills and Deasy’s precise kicking out of hand being the most noteworthy aspects of the game.
Deasy fired over his third penalty goal and Munster’s more experienced forwards, with Marcus Horan, Damien Varley and BJ Botha in the front row, gained the upper hand at scrum time.
Connacht loosehead prop Denis Buckley paid the price when he was sin-binned by referee Mark Patton and after a series of five-metre scrums, Munster were duly awarded a penalty try which Deasy converted.
Connacht, with David Heffernan a lively presence in the back row, were let down by some handling errors before half-time and suffered another setback when lock Michael Kearney was yellow carded.
Attacks from Mark McCrea and Simon Zebo provided some spark as the second half got underway, the returning Tomas O’Leary having a good impact behind the dominant Munster pack.
McCrea was arguably the best of the Connacht backs, slotting in well at outside centre and profiting from the quick deliveries of scrum half David Moore.
The fit-again Miah Nikora also impressed as a second half replacement but Connacht lacked the necessary cutting edge to break down the Munster defence and a couple of costly turnovers spoilt try-scoring chances.
With new signing Will Chambers getting a rare chance to stretch his legs in attack, Munster ‘A’ built through the phases late on.
The young hosts had their third forward sin-binned when replacement prop Jamie Stephens was sent to the line and the resulting penalty was converted by Deasy for a 16-point winning margin.
CONNACHT ‘A’: Shane Layden; John Cleary, Mark McCrea, David McSharry, Callum Boland; Tadhg Leader, David Moore; Denis Buckley, Dermot Murphy, Stewart Maguire, Michael Kearney, David Gannon (capt), David Heffernan, Eoghan Grace, Eoin McKeon.
Replacements used: Finlay Bealham for Buckley (half-time), Kevin O’Byrne for Murphy, Daniel Qualter for Heffernan (both 50 mins), Jamie Stephens for Maguire, Aaron Conneely for McKeon (both 53), Miah Nikora for Leader (58), Finn Gormley for Cleary, Mark Dolan for Moore (both 64),
MUNSTER ‘A’: Sean Scanlon; Luke O’Dea, Will Chambers, Tom Gleeson, Simon Zebo; Scott Deasy, Tomas O’Leary; Marcus Horan, Damien Varley, BJ Botha, Ian Nagle, Dave Foley, Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan (capt).
Replacements used: Declan Cusack for Deasy (half-time), Scott Deasy for Scanlon (52 mins), JJ Hanrahan for Gleeson (57), Dave Kilcoyne for Horan, Denis Fogarty for Varley, John Ryan for Botha (all 60), Duncan Williams for O’Leary (64), Philip Donnellan for Nagle, Brian O’Hara for O’Donnell (both 67).
Referee: Mark Patton (IRFU)