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Munster ‘A’ Fall To London Welsh In B&I Cup Opener
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Munster ‘A’ Fall To London Welsh In B&I Cup Opener

Munster ‘A’ Fall To London Welsh In B&I Cup Opener

Despite an excellent start from Munster ‘A’, visitors London Welsh ultimately made their greater experience and physicality tell in defeating Peter Malone’s charges 30-15 in today’s British & Irish Cup first round clash at Midleton RFC.

A shower of rain in the opening minutes made for somewhat slippery conditions from the off, but that did not stop Munster 'A' from executing some excellent interplay for the game's opening try.

Promoted to the starting line-up after the late withdrawal of Toms O'Leary, South African Abrie Griesel threw a wonderful reverse pass to the oncoming John Madigan who ran a beautiful line to hit the space and bring the hosts well inside the 22. The second row found John Foley before he was brought to ground and the Academy flanker was in for a very well-worked sixth minute try, converted by Munster newcomer Steve Crosbie.

Acquitting themselves admirably early on against this highly rated English Championship side, the Munster 'A' pack did well in defending the London Welsh maul, also forcing penalties in the match's opening two scrums.

However, somewhat against the run of play, it was the visitors who struck next, spreading possession wide and creating an overlap down the right wing where full-back Chris Elder stepped inside the defence for Welsh's opening try.

With Joe Carlisle pushing his conversion kick to the left, Munster 'A' still led and their reply was instant through the boot of out-half Crosbie who added a penalty on 17 minutes.

However, from there, the visitors began to hit their stride, starving Munster 'A' of possession and winning the set piece battle. In the first instance, an excellent cross-field kick for Robbie Nairn saw the winger cross before Welsh's maul worked up a head a steam that drove them to the line, soon after which captain Ben Pienaar crossed for their third try.

Carlisle converted the latter try as well as adding a penalty – Munster 'A' guilty of holding on in front of the posts – and the visitors led 20-10 at the interval.

London Welsh continued to apply serious pressure on the restart, winning the early penalties of the second half, turning over Munster 'A' on their own lineout and neutralising the province's maul when they did manage to get it going.

Regaining parity at scrum time, Munster did force a penalty but Crosbie sent his effort to the right and Welsh maintained their 10-point advantage.

The deficit was eventually cut to five on 54 minutes when Munster 'A' attacked with purpose. A cut-out pass from Crosbie found Sean O'Connor who made excellent headway on the right wing. The Munstermen then went through a couple of phases before going wide and finding Colm Hogan on the right wing for their second try.

After Crosbie was unable to slot the extras, London Welsh were quick to hit back with their bonus point try, their backs and forwards joining forces to drive a maul over on 63 minutes – none other than full-back Elder got the touchdown with Carlisle converting.

Try as Munster 'A' might, the more experienced Championship outfit had the measure of the hosts, showing their set piece strength again and forcing knocks-ons from Peter Malone's side as they chased the game in the dying minutes.

A penalty from replacement Glyn Hughes sealed the deal for London Welsh on 78 minutes, the visitors full value for their 15-point success in Cork. Munster 'A' will have to regroup quickly for next Saturday's round 2 trip to Doncaster (kick-off 2.30pm).

Referee: Fergus Kirby (England)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Colm Hogan; Andrew Conway, David Johnston, Cian Bohane (capt), Alex Wootton; Steve Crosbie, Abrie Griesel; Peter McCabe, Vincent O'Brien, Rory Burke, John Madigan, Darren O'Shea; Sean O'Connor, John Foley (Mulcahy 75), Gavin Coombes.

Replacements used: Fineen Wycherley for Madigan (28-38 mins, blood sub), Liam O'Connor for McCabe (50), Calvin Nash for Hogan (57), John Poland for Griesel (63), Peter Kelleher for Burke (68), Steven McMahon for Wootton, Niall Mulcahy for Foley (both 75).

Away Team

Chris Elder; Robbie Nairn, James Lewis, Heath Stevens, Miles Mantella; Joe Carlisle, Ben Vellacott; Nathan Trevett, Nathan Morris, Lovejoy Chawatama; Charlie Beckett, Alex Woolford; Ben Pienaar (capt), Jesse Liston, Kieran Murphy.

Replacements: Koree Britton, Darryl Marfo, Ben Cooper, Barney Maddison, Aaron Carpenter, Rob Lewis, Glyn Hughes.

Match Scorers

Home Team

Tries: John Foley, Colm Hogan; Con: Steve Crosbie; Pen: Steve Crosbie

Away Team

Tries: Chris Elder 2, Robbie Nairn, Ben Pienaar; Cons: Joe Carlisle 2; Pens: Joe Carlisle, Glyn Hughes