Munster ‘A’ suffered a 38-17 loss to Doncaster Knights in this afternoon’s British & Irish Cup quarter-final, as a physical and controlled performance from the hosts saw them run in five tries at Castle Park.
First blood went to Munster 'A' after Doncaster were penalised for holding on. Following a kick to touch from Rory Scannell, the Knights again infringed, this time at the breakdown and Scannell opted to take the three points on offer.
Looking to quell any Munster 'A' momentum, Doncaster soon got a foothold in the game. Off their first penalty they appeared to have crossed the whitewash, only for the referee and fourth official to adjudge that the final pass had been knocked on.
However, the English Championship outfit, feeling aggrieved, pushed Munster 'A' off their own ball in the subsequent scrum and won another penalty, opting for the corner again. They used their lineout maul to great effect in the 15th minute as flanker Michael Hills touched down and Dougie Flockhart converted.
In terms of the set piece battle, Doncaster held the upper hand throughout the opening 40 minutes, at scum time in particular as Munster 'A' coughed up numerous penalties.
Once such penalty brought the Knights back into the visitors' 22. Working from a lineout and with a penalty advantage, they brought the ball infield before scrum half Bruno Bravo spotted and exploited a half gap close to the ruck and crossed for the second try. The conversion made it 14-3 on 28 minutes.
Worse was to come when Munster 'A' went offside at ruck time. Keeping faith with his dominant pack, place-kicker Flockhart opted for touch from where the forwards did the rest with Hills touching down to complete his brace. Flockhart maintained his 100% kicking record with the conversion and Doncaster led 21-3 at the break.
With so much to do, Mick O'Driscoll's men needed to strike first in the second period. However, Doncaster emerged from the dressing room with the same opening half intensity and without a hint of complacency.
Another scrum penalty saw Flockhart extend their lead to 24-3 just before one of the province's key men, veteran lock Donncha O'Callaghan, was sin-binned.
Minutes later, following a line out infringement from Munster 'A', the home side began to turn the screw. From a lineout they marched their opponents back 22 metres and flanker Latu Makaafi scored a textbook catch and drive try.
31-3 down, it was Munster 'A' who would strike next, going wide off a lineout and Rory Scannell finding a gap in midfield to touch down and convert the province's opening try on 57 minutes.
However, Doncaster soon found their way back into the Reds' 22, winding down the clock while also wearing down the visitors' defence with a barrage of attacks.
A couple of uncharacteristic errors saw them award possession to Munster 'A' but that was soon forgiven after they notching their fifth try, creating a two-on-one overlap from the back of a scrum for Flockhart to touch down and convert.
Maintaining that never-say-die attitude throughout, O'Driscoll's charges at least had the final say when a thundering run from replacement Dan Goggin saw him cross the whitewash for Scannell to convert.
Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)