Munster ‘A’ opened their British & Irish Cup campaign tonight at the Athletic Ground in Richmond. A hard-fought battle with London Scottish saw Mick O’Driscoll’s side come away with a losing bonus point in a 27-25 defeat.
With the sides level at the interval, the second half produced more open rugby with five tries scored – three to two in favour of London Scottish. The superior try count proved to be the difference come the final whistle as the hosts held on for a two-point victory.
Scottish opened the scoring with an early Oli Grove penalty and went further ahead through an unconverted try from Lee Millar in the sixth minute. Robbie Fergusson's inside pass sent his centre partner Millar through from the edge of the 22.
Munster Academy out-half Bill Johnston replied with a penalty after 17 minutes, only to see his night cut short through injury just minutes later. He was replaced by Dan Goggin who went on to score a brace of tries in this Pool 3 opener.
The Young Munster clubman made his presence felt when crossing for the province's first try five minutes before half-time. Goggin provided the ideal finish to a period of sustained pressure from Munster 'A', driving over from close range.
Bill's older brother David switched from full-back to out-half. When taking over the kicking duties, he was unable to add the conversion and a subsequent penalty before the half-time whistle so the sides remained level (8-8) at the break.
The Clonmel man did kick Munster 'A' ahead in the 46th minute. Even better followed for the 21-year-old Johnston when he showed a clean pair of heels to the Scottish defence at close quarters and crossed for his own converted try, and the visitors' second, after 63 minutes.
Prior to that, Scottish had already pulled ahead through captain Freddie Clarke who crashed over from a successful rolling maul.
The English Championship outfit then went on to enjoy a 10-minute period where they scored two converted tries. Another well-orchestrated maul got Chevvy Pennycook into scoring range and he managed to get over the line with Peter Lydon's conversion making it 20-18.
With their tails now up, Scottish secured the win and a bonus point to boot as winger Andrew Turner had enough room to get over wide out on the right.
Lydon, the former Seapoint and Stade Francais out-half, nailed a terrific touchline conversion to open up a nine-point margin. Scottish also had another Irish recruit involved in replacement hooker Tyrone Moran, who was an Ulster Bank League winner with Lansdowne last season.
However, the men in red managed to have the final say. Goggin grabbed his second try of the night and Johnston converted with just over 78 minutes on the clock.
There was no denying Scottish, though, and Mick O'Driscoll's charges, who host Yorkshire Carnegie in Kinsale next Friday night, were left with just a point to show for their efforts in Richmond.
Referee: Rob Price (Wales)