Ronan O’Mahony and Duncan Williams crossed for tries as Munster picked up their first win of their pre-season and handed new head coach Anthony Foley his maiden victory.
PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY: Friday, August 29
MUNSTER 17 LONDON IRISH 5, Waterford RSC
Scorers: Munster: Tries: Ronan O’Mahony, Duncan Williams; Cons: Johnny Holland 2; Pen: Johnny Holland
London Irish: Try: Alex Lewington
Played in front of a 5,000 sell-out at the Waterford RSC, Munster showed much improved form from their previous outing against Gloucester and Anthony Foley will be happy with impressive debuts from centre Andrew Smith and number 8 Robin Copeland, while Darren Sweetnam and CJ Stander also shone for the home side.
Munster led 7-5 at the end of a disjointed first half, but they ratcheted up the pressure on London Irish after the restart and powered to a deserved victory.
However, a knee injury for centre Cian Bohane (pictured below) was the major sour note from the evening. Bohane had to be stretchered off in the final minutes after he sustained the injury – a huge setback for him after two impressive outings in pre-season.
Munster got off to a good start though and after dominating territorially in the opening minutes, young out-half Johnny Holland declined a kickable penalty following a London Irish infringement in a Munster maul. And after a brilliant lineout take from Billy Holland started the move, a superbly executed choke tackle – a couple of phases later – halted the experienced second row’s run.
Three minutes later Johnny Holland received orders to kick to the corner again when excellent breaks by Sweetnam and Stander forced London Irish into conceding a penalty at a ruck. But after some solid pressure from Munster, they coughed up possession in the scoring zone.
Both Donncha O’Callaghan and his opposite number Jebb Sinclair were sin-binned in the 29th minute following an off-the-ball altercation, and with both sides a man down Munster hit the front.
Stander (pictured below) was the chief architect of the move as his powerful driving run caused the London Irish defence to narrow, and Cathal Sheridan spotted a three-on-one overlap and sent winger Ronan O’Mahony over for a simple finish.
There was nothing easy about Johnny Holland’s conversion, which gave Munster a 7-0 lead in the 36th minute, but the home side’s joy was short lived when a nice move down the right wing produced a try for Irish as Tom Fowlie sent Alex Lewington over in the corner.
Munster held a 7-5 lead at half-time, but despite a high error rate, Foley’s charges continued to dominate the visitors.
Matt Parr was yellow carded for London Irish for a scrum infringement in the 43rd minute, and during that numerical advantage Billy Holland almost got over in the corner, and only a late Will Harries clearance denied the big lock.
But Munster held on to the territorial dominance and after O’Callaghan, Holland and Sean Dougall all came within inches of reaching the try-line, replacement scrum half Duncan Williams bagged Munster’s second try when he wriggled over from close range in the 59th minute.
Once again Johnny Holland made no mistake with the conversion to stretch Munster’s lead to 14-5, and when he slotted his first penalty attempt 12 minutes from time there was no way back for Irish.
MUNSTER: Johne Murphy; Ronan O’Mahony, Andrew Smith, Cian Bohane, Darren Sweetnam; Johnny Holland, Cathal Sheridan; John Ryan, Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer, Donncha O’Callaghan (capt), Billy Holland, CJ Stander, Sean Dougall, Robin Copeland.
Replacements used: Duncan Williams for Sheridan (half-time), BJ Botha for Archer (51 mins), Ivan Dineen for Sweetnam (60), Ger Slattery for O’Byrne, Shane Buckley for Copeland (both 62), Rory Scannell for Murphy, David Johnston for Smith, Sean McCarthy for Dougall, Barry O’Mahony for Stander (all 68), Murphy for Bohane, Alan Cotter for Ryan, John Madigan for O’Callaghan (all 75), Duncan Casey for Slattery (76).
LONDON IRISH: Andrew Fenby; Alex Lewington, Tom Fowlie, Guy Armitage, Will Harries; Myles Dorrian, Tomas O’Leary; Matt Parr, David Paice, Halani Aulika, Jebb Sinclair, Nic Rouse, Kieran Low, Conor Gilsenan, Luke Narraway.
Replacements: Gerard Ellis, Tom Court, Leo Halavatau, Blair Cowan, Ofisa Treviranus, Mike Mayhew, Darren Allinson, Shane Geraghty, James Short, Eamonn Sheridan, Topsy Ojo, Tom Homer, Chris Noakes.
Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU)