Munster ‘A’ recorded an opening round victory in the British & Irish Cup, defeating Moseley 27-21 at Clonmel RFC this afternoon.
With tries from Ronan O'Mahony and Paddy Butler, together with five penalties and one conversion from the boot of Rory Scannell, Munster 'A' ground out a hard-fought win over the English Championship side.
Moseley, for their part, persistently tested the Munster 'A' defence and scored two tries in the process, the first of which brought the sides level early in the second half.
However, Mick O'Driscoll's youngsters held their composure with the defence holding firm when it mattered most.
It was the hosts who started the stronger, making territory from each collision and driving Moseley backwards.
The visitors' early problems were compounded when a beautifully weighted kick from Scannell bounced favourably for winger O'Mahony (pictured below) who touched down in the left corner just shy of the two-minute mark. Scannell's conversion attempt went narrowly wide.
Munster 'A' continued to make good ground and could have been in again minutes later when a break from Dan Goggin in the centre saw Stephen Fitzgerald beautifully flick the ball out to O'Mahony who knocked on while attempting to gather.
However, Moseley soon started to find their stride and lapses in the Munster 'A' defence allowed the visitors to make easy yardage.
Yet despite the initial breaks, Moseley rarely made their way into the 22 with the hosts recovering well and managing to get back in numbers.
Lateral play across the back-line from the Englishmen also allowed Munster 'A' to neutralise the threat by bundling them into touch.
When O'Driscoll's charges infringed at the breakdown on 10 minutes, Samuel Olver was on hand to get Moseley off the mark with a penalty kick straight in front of the posts.
The sides then traded penalties through Scannell and Olver respectively, but undoubtedly the kick of the game went to the Dolphin clubman who landed a 40th minute penalty from the halfway line to give his province an 11-6 cushion at the interval.
Moseley emerged a different team on the restart and dominated Munster 'A' for the opening 10 minutes of the second half, holding onto most of the possession and forcing Munster 'A' to cough up two consecutive penalties in that time.
Although the penalties were in kickable position, Moseley – sensing they had their hosts on the back foot – kicked to touch each time. Munster 'A' secured turnover ball on the first attempt but Moseley would not make the same mistake twice.
From a line out deep in the province's 22, the visitors kept it tight and sniped around the fringes with Adam Caves touching down after a couple of phases. Olver's miss with the conversion left the sides all square on 11 points after 47 minutes.
However, Moseley were unable to capitalise on their new-found momentum, instead handing the advantage straight back to the Munster men.
Cynical play which saw Stefan Thorp to the sin-bin, coupled with a separate offside offence, presented the hosts with two kickable penalties within the next 10 minutes, both of which the impressive Scannell slotted between the posts.
A scrappy period of play from both sides again saw Olver and Scannell trade penalties before blindside flanker Butler dealt Moseley a killer blow.
From an attacking lineout deep in the visitors' 22, Munster 'A' went thought the phases with Butler using his significant bulk and power to barge though the defensive line and touch down in the 78th minute. Scannell made it a full seven-point return with his sixth successful place-kick of the afternoon.
That said, Moseley managed have the final say of the game when a late surge put Munster 'A' on the back foot, defending on their own line. The pressure eventually told when replacement out-half Caolan Ryan touched down from a pick and go at close range.
Ryan was also on hand to add the extras and that was to be the final action of the game as Munster 'A', who travel to Sixways to play Worcester Warriors next Saturday, made a winning start to the competition.
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)