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Munster ‘A’ Recover To Earn Cork Success

Munster ‘A’ Recover To Earn Cork Success

Despite a poor opening 40 minutes and a ten-point deficit, Munster ‘A’ rallied in the second half to record a 23-16 home victory over Nottingham in Pool 3 of the British & Irish Cup.

It was Munster 'A' who started the more promising at Temple Hill – forcing knock-ons from the visitors, winning two consecutive penalties at scrum time and looking the most likely to cross the whitewash.

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A penalty from the scrum allowed Johnny Holland to open the province's account in the sixth minute. He extended the lead to 6-0 on 13 minutes after Will Maisey was off target for Nottingham with his fist kick at goal.

However, the Munster 'A' team's grip on the opening half loosened as they began to infringe at the scrum. With another penalty opportunity, Maisey reduced the deficit to three points and spurred the Englishmen into action.

Nottingham showed their intent early in the game, turning down kickable penalties to opt for touch.
On the first occasion Munster 'A' did well to force the knock-on in the lineout, only to infringe at the subsequent scrum, allowing Maisey to level matters on 24 minutes.

Enjoying somewhat of a purple patch for the remainder of the half, serious pressure from Nottingham meant Mick O'Driscoll's charges could not guarantee possession from their own set piece.

The hosts' problems were compounded when Nottingham again kicked to touch from a penalty, then keeping it tight from the line out maul before releasing centre Ed Styles for a 32nd minute unconverted try and an 11-6 interval scoreline.

Things went from bad to worse for Munster 'A' in the early stages of the second period, losing playmaker Holland to injury on 42 minutes and Alan Cotter was sin-binned six minutes later.

That was all before Nottingham again used their lineout maul to good effect from a penalty. With the hard yards made and the home defence sucked in, they spread it wide and a three-on-one overlap saw winger Liam O'Neill touch down with 52 minutes on the clock.

With the serious whiff of a home defeat in the offing, Munster 'A' then turned it on and set about erasing Nottingham's deserved 16-6 advantage.

Sensing that O'Driscoll's side were coming back into the game, the visitors began to lose some composure and the mistakes that dogged Munster 'A' in the opening half were now the problem of Nottingham.

Two consecutive penalty misses from Rory Scannell let the English outfit off the hook in the short term, but they could not prevent the eventual Munster 'A' onslaught for the final 20 minutes of the game.

Johne Murphy's searing run from inside his own 22 brought Munster 'A' deep into the Nottingham half, and with the visitors scrambling to get numbers in defence, strong running and quick hands from the breakdown saw Munster 'A' captain Jack O'Donoghue touch down in the 67th minute. Scannell converted.

With Munster 'A' now in the ascendancy, they gave Nottingham a little dose of their own medicine – making good yardage from a maul. Building up a serious head of steam, the province's pack marched strongly towards the try-line and when Nottingham pulled it down illegally, the referee wasted no time in awarding the penalty try.

The easiest of tap overs for Scannell made it 20-16 before he again extended the Reds' lead in the dying minutes. Munster 'A' drove Nottingham backwards as they attempted to escape from their own half, but the pressure proved too much and they conceded another three-pointer right in front of the posts.

Munster 'A' stayed strong and composed in defence to see out the result, making it three wins out of four so far in the pool stages. The only team to beat them, Worcester Warriors, pay a visit to the CIT Sports Stadium next Friday.

Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)