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Electric Munster Overpower Australia

Electric Munster Overpower Australia

Munster produced a stirring 80-minute display at a wet and windy Thomond Park, muscling their way past a high quality Australian side for a 15-6 win.

Former Australia Sevens captain Paul Warwick landed three penalties and a brace of drop goals to down his countrymen and add another famous win to Munster's proud history.

With the Wallabies still smarting from a disappointing 35-18 defeat to England, head coach Robbie Deans called on his second string to produce a winning performance ahead of their Test against Italy on Saturday.

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But in heavy rain showers and a howling wind, the Berrick Barnes-led tourists were second best, particularly during a second half that this largely youthful Munster outfit comfortably dominated.

The hosts just lacked a final pass or push from the forwards to breach the Australian try-line, going closest through a series of pick and go efforts close to the posts.

In the end, Warwick's kicking haul was enough to seal Munster's fourth victory over Australia, after previous wins in 1967, 1981 and 1992.

The Wallabies, who face Ireland in their Rugby World Cup pool next year, had the wind behind them from the off but were held to a 6-6 half-time scoreline.

Out-half Barnes, the visitors' captain, struck a pinpoint second minute penalty to punish Niall Ronan for a ruck offence.

Australia then coughed up a couple of penalties, the second after a purposeful maul from the Munster forwards, and some more constructive play from the home pack set up Warwick for a successful drop goal from in front of the posts.

A promising position for Australia was spoilt by a crooked lineout throw from Saia Faingaa, and Munster were impressive out of touch, with young lock Ian Nagle offering a towering presence.

The Wallabies were sent scurrying back towards their try-line in the 21st minute, Rod Davies rescuing the situation after new Munster prop Peter Borlase and the lively Keith Earls had sparked a kick chase.

From the resulting scrum, Munster threatened through Warwick before the forwards were held up. A powerful shove in the scrum got the Wallabies out of trouble, winning them a relieving penalty.

Barnes kicked his second successful penalty in the 29th minute and Munster had Peter O'Mahony to thank for a well-timed tackle on Luke Morahan, as Davies loomed on the right for a try-scoring pass.

But hands in the ruck saw Australian centre Anthony Faingaa sin-binned before half-time, after repeated warnings from referee Bryce Lawrence.

Munster, roared on by an attendance of 21,314, levelled through Warwick's brilliantly controlled kick from the left and sides went in level.

The Munster out-half was a pivotal figure in the third quarter, landing two crisply struck penalties as Earls held the ball upright in the swirling wind.

The initiative was clearly with Munster and up-and-coming talents like man-of-the-match Nagle and the all-action O'Mahony and Billy Holland maintained a huge work rate. By contrast, Australia's efforts slid and handling errors blighted even the usually composed Barnes.

Starved of possession and territory, Deans' men let their discipline slip and Munster had near misses when scrum half Duncan Williams was held up short of the line and Johne Murphy failed to link with Doug Howlett when the New Zealander was the better option.

Warwick was off target with three more penalty attempts – two from difficult angles on the right, and another kick from distance found the right hand post.

But his snap drop goal, on the hour mark, was enough to get the current Magners League leaders over the finish line.

Some committed defence from the lacklustre Wallabies kept Munster tryless. However, a late yellow card for prop Ben Daley, who infringed at a ruck in his 22, signalled the end for the men in gold and green.

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)