Munster lost out 19-14 to Declan Kidney’s London Irish team at Musgrave Park to round off their pre-season run of matches ahead of the new campaign.
PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY MATCH: Friday, September 2
MUNSTER 14 LONDON IRISH 19, Musgrave Park
Scorers: Munster: Tries: Mike Haley, Paddy Patterson; Cons: Jack Crowley 2
London Irish: Tries: James Stokes, Matt Williams, Henry Arundell; Cons: Paddy Jackson, Jacob Atkins
HT: Munster 0 London Irish 12
Mike Haley and Paddy Patterson were the Munster try scorers with Jack Crowley converting both, but it was London Irish who claimed the Jack Wakefield Memorial Trophy.
30 players featured for the hosts, including the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy quartet of Edwin Edogbo, Cian Hurley, Daniel Okeke and Tony Butler. Irish-qualified, French-born centre Antoine Frisch made his first appearance for the province.
However, a lacklustre first half saw Graham Rowntree’s charges trailing 12-0 at the interval with James Stokes and Matt Williams touching down for the visitors.
Both tries were scored after well-worked moves and it took some strong Munster defence to limit the visitors’ lead to just 12 points after 40 minutes.
There were eight changes at the break for Munster, with new signing Frisch coming on for his debut at outside centre alongside fellow replacement Malakai Fekitoa.
The province began the fight-back within minutes of the restart, as Fekitoa and livewire scrum half Patterson combined to release Haley, who finished powerfully in the corner.
Crowley converted from the touchline and Munster were back in it at just 12-7 down. The home crowd had been waiting for a chance to get into the game and they got right behind the team as Munster started to play with renewed purpose.
Fekitoa fed Liam Coombes for a gallop down the right wing, the men in red looking the more dangerous side throughout the third quarter but London Irish defended well.
The crucial try came on 65 minutes for Declan Kidney’s men as they went left off a scrum in midfield and made huge ground with England-capped speedster Henry Arundell touching down.
Replacement Jacob Atkins converted for a 19-7 lead and Irish gaining the upper hand at scrum time to further strengthen their grip on proceedings.
Munster, nonetheless, looked to hit back immediately and a good period of pressure paid off in the 73rd minute when Patterson sidestepped over from close range after Edogbo had been stopped just short.
Crowley converted to set up a grandstand finish and although Munster showed some good attacking touches late on, Irish never looked in danger of conceding another try and held on for the deserved win.
On the injury front, Calvin Nash (head) and Alex Kendellen (leg) both departed with knocks and will be assessed by the Munster medical team.
MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Calvin Nash, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; Ben Healy, Neil Cronin; Josh Wycherley, Scott Buckley, Keynan Knox, Jean Kleyn, Eoin O’Connor, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue (capt), Alex Kendellen.
Replacements: Diarmuid Barron, Chris Moore, Roman Salanoa, Liam O’Connor, Edwin Edogbo, Thomas Ahern, Cian Hurley, Daniel Okeke, Paddy Patterson, Jack Crowley, Liam Coombes, Malakai Fekitoa, Antoine Frisch, Tony Butler, Mike Haley.
LONDON IRISH: First Half Team – James Stokes; Matt Williams (Alex Harmes 53), Curtis Rona, Benhard van Rensburg; Ollie Hassell-Collins; Paddy Jackson (capt), Ben White (Caolan Englefield 49); Facundo Gigena (Danilo Fischetti 48), Matt Cornish (Isaac Miller 48), Oliver Hoskins (Lovejoy Chawatama 41), Rob Simmons, Adam Coleman, Ben Donnell, Tom Pearson, Josh Basham.
Second Half Team – Henry Arundell; Will Joseph, Luca Morisi, Tom Hitchcock, Alex Harmes; Jacob Atkins (Paddy Jackson 66), Caolan Englefield; Danilo Fischetti, Isaac Miller, Lovejoy Chawatama, Josh Caulfield, Api Ratuniyarawa, Jack Cooke, Isaac Curtis-Harris, Chandler Cunningham-South.
Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU)