Tries in either half from Ronan O’Mahony and Sean Henry helped Munster ‘A’ hold off a late fightback from Leinster ‘A’ to record an 18-12 victory in a lively interprovincial encounter at Donnybrook.
‘A’ INTERPROVINCIAL MATCH: Thursday, November 15
LEINSTER ‘A’ 12 MUNSTER ‘A’ 18, Donnybrook
Scorers: Leinster ‘A’: Pens: Noel Reid 3, Cathal Marsh
Munster ‘A’: Tries: Ronan O’Mahony, Sean Henry; Con: JJ Hanrahan; Pens: JJ Hanrahan 2
In a lively beginning to the contest, former Ireland Under-20 international JJ Hanrahan had the chance to open the scoring for Munster ‘A’ with a 30-metre penalty. However, his sixth minute kick from a tight left-hand angle drifted past the posts.
Munster ‘A’, who lined out with a strong back-line that included Felix Jones, Johne Murphy, Danny Barnes and the veteran Peter Stringer, were starting to force the home side onto the backfoot.
They crossed the whitewash for the first time after 12 minutes when winger Ronan O’Mahony drove over on the left following fine work towards the line by hooker Sean Henry.
Out-half Hanrahan was off target once again with his subequent conversion attempt, and Leinster ‘A’ took advantage of this missed opportunity seven minutes later when number 10 Noel Reid converted a penalty from the 22-metre line.
Clontarf clubman Reid sent a similar effort through the uprights in the 25th minutes, moving Leinster ‘A’ into a slender 6-5 lead.
These scores helped to calm the Leinster nerves and even though Reid fell short with a three-point attempt moments later, he made no mistake from in front of the posts with six minutes remaining in the first half.
This proved to be Reid’s last meaningful involvement in the fixture unfortunately, as injury soon forced him off and he was replaced by Trinity’s Cathal Marsh.
A brace of late place-kicks by Hanrahan – the second after Leinster ‘A’ captain Jack McGrath saw yellow for a ruck offence – meant that Munster ‘A’ took an 11-9 advantage with them into the second period.
With a number of fresh legs introduced upon the resumption, Munster ‘A’ maintained their momentum from the end of the first half, and got through for their second try of the afternoon when Henry powered over from a maul in the right corner.
Henry’s score came following a long spell inside the Leinster ‘A’ 22 shortly after the restart. Hanrahan’s radar was now fully tuned in, and he expertly added the extras from the right wing, increasing the Munster ‘A’ lead to nine points in the process.
This left Leinster ‘A’ with plenty of work to do as the final half hour of play beckoned. But even though they were displaying plenty of endeavour in attack, the men in blue found it hard to break through a stern Munster ‘A’ rearguard.
As the half moved on, both sides opted to unload their bench, offering those on show some much-needed game-time ahead of their respective British & Irish Cup ties in the coming weeks.
Replacement out-half Scott Deasy was presented with the opportunity to increase the Munster ‘A’ cushion even further with 12 minutes to go, but his kick fell well short of the home posts.
This offered strong-scrummaging Leinster ‘A’ a lifeline heading into the closing stages, and a successful Marsh penalty after 77 minutes made for some nervy moments for Munster ‘A’ late on.
Indeed, it briefly looked like Leinster ‘A’ might be able to find their way through for a dramatic triumph, but the more experienced Munster ‘A’ outfit held firm to come away with a hard-earned success.
LEINSTER ‘A’: David Kearney; Andrew Boyle, Brendan Macken, Jordan Coghlan, Sam Coghlan Murray; Noel Reid, Adam Griggs; Jack McGrath (capt), James Tracy, Jamie Hagan, Tadhg Beirne, Ben Marshall, Rhys Ruddock, Conor Gilsenan, Jordi Murphy.
Replacements used: Cathal Marsh for Reid (36 mins), Tom Sexton for Tracy (half-time), Tom Daly for Macken (48), Martin Moore for Hagan (54), Jack Conan for Murphy (63), Jack O’Connell for McGrath (65), Josh van der Flier for Gilsenan (68), Adam Byrne for Kearney (70).
MUNSTER ‘A’: Felix Jones; Johne Murphy, Danny Barnes, Ivan Dineen, Ronan O’Mahony; JJ Hanrahan, Peter Stringer; John Ryan, Sean Henry, Christy Condon, David Foley, Ian Nagle, Shane Buckley, Tommy O’Donnell, Paddy Butler (capt).
Replacements used: Ryan Murphy for O’Donnell (21 mins), Stephen Archer for Condon, Cian Bohane for O’Mahony, Duncan Williams for Stringer (all half-time), Brian Hayes for Foley (43), Duncan Casey for Henry (49), Philip Donnellan for Butler (53), Scott Deasy for Hanrahan (56), Kevin Griffin for Ryan (72).
Referee: Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU)