Munster’s opening pre-season match ended in a 31-7 defeat at the hands of Stade Rochelais at the Stade Marcel Deflandre on Friday night.
PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY: Friday, August 10
STADE ROCHELAIS 31 MUNSTER 7, Stade Marcel Deflandre
Scorers: Stade Rochelais: Tries: Benjamin Geledan, Francois Herry, Uini Atonio, Thomas Soucaze; Cons: Sebastien Fauque 3, Clement Marienval; Pen: Sebastien Fauque
Munster: Try: Sean Scanlon; Con: Scott Deasy
Stade Rochelais came into this game with two pre-season fixtures under their belts and it showed as they hit Rob Penney’s Munster side for 31 unanswered points.
The visitors, who were captained by fit-again winger Doug Howlett, broke their scoring duck in the closing stages when replacement Sean Scanlon fastened onto Scott Deasy’s clever chip through to touch down.
The home side opened with a try from Benjamin Geledan in the 23rd minute, despite a hint of a knock on, and never really looked back. They were 10-0 ahead at the interval with out-half Sebastien Fauque converting and adding a penalty.
Munster’s new head coach Penney rung the changes at half-time as planned, retaining just two of his back-line – Howlett and Luke O’Dea – in what was nine changes overall.
Stade also made changes but without much disruption to their rhythm and they extended their lead in the 52nd minute with a length of the field move that ended with a try for replacement Francois Herry.
Another of their replacements, Uini Antonio, scored their fourth try and although Christy Condon did marvellously well to deny a certain score, it proved to be just a delay as the French scored from the subsequent scrum.
Scanlon’s 70th-minute try was converted by its creator Deasy, however it was mere consolation for a competitive but well-beaten Munster outfit.
The match came at the end of a four-day training camp for the province and three of their latest signings, James Downey, Casey Laulala and Sean Dougall, got some valuable game-time into their legs.
Another boost was the sight of Howlett and number 8 James Coughlan making their respective returns from injury.
STADE ROCHELAIS: Kini Murimurivalu; Maxime Le Bourhis, Clement Marienval, Gonzalo Canale, Damian Cler; Sebastien Fauque, Damien Neveu; Jordan Senaca; Benjamin Geledan, Stephane Clement; Jacobus Groblerc (captain), Leandro Cedaro; Kevin Gourdon, Arnaud Dorier, Loann Goujon.
Replacements used: Franco Pani, Petrisor Toderasc, Franck Jacob, Romain Sazy, Thomas Soucaze, Julien Berger, Benjamin Ferrou, Uini Atonio, Christophe Lafoy, Romain Brison, Arthur Cestaro, Francois Herry.
MUNSTER: Denis Hurley; Doug Howlett (captain), Danny Barnes, James Downey, Luke O’Dea; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Dave Kilcoyne, Ger Slattery, Stephen Archer; Billy Holland, Brian Hayes; Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan, Sean Dougall.
Replacements used: Duncan Casey, Marcus Horan, John Ryan, Wian du Preez, Christy Condon, Philip Donnellan, Cathal O’Flaherty, Paddy Butler, Barry O’Mahony, Peter Stringer, Johnny Holland, Scott Deasy, JJ Hanrahan, Casey Laulala, Sean Scanlon, Ronan O’Mahony.