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Munster ‘A’ Make Winning Start To Cup Defence

Munster ‘A’ Make Winning Start To Cup Defence

A solid first 40 minutes laid the foundations for an opening pool win for Munster ‘A’ in the British & Irish Cup, as the defending champions beat Plymouth Albion 26-22.

It was a mixed day of results for the province following the senior team's earlier Heineken Cup defeat in Paris, but the next generation of Munster players claimed an impressive victory away to English Championship Plymouth Albion.

Munster 'A' collected three tries in the first half with Academy centre Corey Hircock grabbing a brace and fit-again lock Ian Nagle touching down on his return from a shoulder injury.

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Albion opened at Brickfields with all the pressure. They opted to press for early tries rather than take the points from kickable penalties and an impressive Munster 'A' defence denied the hosts from claiming any return.

Facing into the wind, Munster 'A' stormed downfield in response. Centre JJ Hanrahan found space and released the outside backs, including the fit-again Felix Jones, with Hircock at the end of the flowing move. Hanrahan missed the conversion.

Munster 'A' were awarded a penalty from the restart and took a quick tap, running the ball wide for Hircock to blitz through for his second try. Hanrahan added the extras for an early 12-0 advantage.

But the visitors were reduced to 14 men when second row Nagle was sin-binned. Albion's Paul Roberts, who was partnered by former Old Belvedere scrum half Ruairi Cushion, kicked the penalty to get his side on the board.

Hanrahan responded with his first penalty of the afternoon, 25 minutes in, to restore the 12-point lead for Ian Costello's men.

Plymouth reduced the margin when full-back Henry Slade was deemed the try scorer after a number of hands got to a Roberts grubber kick.

Soon after, Nagle marked his return to action with a well-worked try straight from the training ground – he went over in the corner after finding himself at the end of a Hanrahan cross-field kick.

The first half was closed out by another Albion comeback. They made the hard yards with a strong maul, setting up lock Brett Beukeboom for a try on the cusp of half-time. That cut the gap to 20-15.

Into the second period, Albion lost try scorer Beukeboom to the sin-bin for an intentional block and Hanrahan kicked the penalty to put eight points between the sides.

Hircock missed out on a third try when he was pulled back for a forward pass from returning full-back Jones in the build-up.

Hanrahan sent over his third successful penalty, despite a couple of air horns going off, to put the province in sight of the finish line.

They ended an entertaining game as four-point winners after Albion mounted a final attack and number 8 Aaron Carpenter dotted down with Roberts converting.

Apart from the away triumph, the main positives for Costello and the management were the returns of Jones and Nagle and the impressive showing of Kerryman Hanrahan with ball in hand and from the kicking tee.

Next up for Munster 'A' is a clash with Aberavon at Tralee RFC next Saturday afternoon (kick-off 1pm). The Welsh outfit suffered an opening defeat to Rotherham Titans today, losing 25-21 at home.

Referee: Gwyn Morris (Wales)