Munster ‘A’ secured a series win over Ulster Ravens with a 41-27 victory in today’s ‘A’ interprovincial clash at Naas RFC. The game saw former Canterbury player Tyler Bleyendaal play his first 60 minutes of rugby in a Munster jersey.
‘A’ INTERPROVINCIAL MATCH: Wednesday, April 29
MUNSTER ‘A’ 41 ULSTER RAVENS 27, Naas RFC
Scorers: Munster ‘A’: Tries: Conor Oliver, Johne Murphy, Luke O’Dea, Olly Lyons, Diarmaid McCarthy 2; Cons: Tyler Bleyendaal 2, David Johnston 2; Pen: David Johnston
Ulster Ravens: Tries: Kyle McCoy, Peter Nelson, Stephen Mulholland; Cons: Michael Heaney 3; Pens: Michael Heaney 2
In total, Mick O’Driscoll’s Munster ‘A’ team ran in six tries as they made it two wins from three encounters with their northern counterparts in the past two months.
Playing into a strong wind, Munster ‘A’ kept the ball in hand in the opening half before kicking and playing a more expansive game in the second period.
Despite the scrum feeling the pressure at times throughout the game, the lineout remained solid and O’Driscoll will be happy with the performances of a number of ‘A’ debutants, including out-half Tyler Bleyendaal (pictured below) and try scorers Conor Oliver and Olly Lyons.
It was St. Mary’s College clubman Oliver who finished off a purposeful spell of attacking in the 19th minute, going over near the left corner after breaks from David Johnston and Jack O’Donoghue. His touchdown was followed just three minutes later with a try from full-back Johne Murphy, handing the Munstermen a 10-0 lead.
The aforementioned problems in the scrum allowed Michael Heaney to get Ravens off the mark with a penalty and following a further infringement from Munster ‘A’, out-half Heaney reduced the arrears for his side to four points on 33 minutes.
Making for yet another compelling clash between these interprovincial rivals, both sides traded tries before the interval – Luke O’Dea and Kyle McCall crossing for Munster ‘A’ and the Ravens respectively. Despite missing the first two conversions, Bleyendaal soon hit his stride and landed the difficult touchline kick.
O’Dea’s score saw the winger go over in the corner after Munster ‘A’ managed to move the ball wide at speed, while loosehead prop McCall dotted down at the other end following a well-worked lineout and powerful maul.
With Munster ‘A’ leading 17-13 at the break, Bleyendaal was then on hand to convert Lyons’ 59th-minute try, however the Ravens soon took the lead for the first time after Peter Nelson was the quickest to react after Munster ‘A’ spilled a Heaney cross-field kick. The latter slotted the conversion and the Ulstermen were now 20-17 in front.
Their lead was short-lived, though, as winger Diarmaid McCarthy found himself on the end of a terrific breakaway try for Munster ‘A’ with Johnston making it a full seven-pointer.
Johnston added another penalty before Kieran Campbell’s charges made Munster ‘A’ sweat six minutes from time when Ballymena clubman Stephen Mulholland, cutting a great line, crossed for a converted try to make it a one-score game.
It was McCarthy, a member of the Young Munster side that came so close to reaching the Ulster Bank League final, who stepped up to secure the spoils for Munster ‘A’. He finished off his second try in five minutes and with Johnston converting, Munster ‘A’ ran out 41-27 winners.
Meanwhile, of concern for the Munster management was the knee injury suffered by flanker Dave O’Callaghan who had to come off midway through the first half. He will be assessed in the coming days.
MUNSTER ‘A’: Johne Murphy; Darren Sweetnam, David Johnston, Dan Goggin, Luke O’Dea; Tyler Bleyendaal, Cathal Sheridan; Liam O’Connor, Niall Scannell, Peter McCabe, John Madigan, Frank Bradshaw Ryan, Dave O’Callaghan, Conor Oliver, Jack O’Donoghue (capt).
Replacements: Luke O’Halloran, Niall Horan, JP Phelan, Lee Nicholas, Diarmaid Dee, Olly Lyons, Neil Cronin, Gearoid Lyons, Robbie Deegan, Alex Wootton, Diarmaid McCarthy.
ULSTER RAVENS: Peter Nelson; Michael Allen, Mark Best, Sam Arnold, Matthew Hooks; Michael Heaney, David Shanahan; Kyle McCall, John Andrew, Ricky Lutton, John Donnan, Lewis Stevenson (capt), Conor Joyce, Clive Ross, Lorcan Dow.
Replacements: Paul Jackson, Ruaidhri Murphy, Alex Thompson, Neil McComb, Frankie Taggart, Sean Reidy, Stephen Mulholland, Connor Young, Kieran Joyce, Adam Liddell, Peter Dunlop.