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Munster ‘A’ Suffer Late Defeat In Clonmel

Munster ‘A’ Suffer Late Defeat In Clonmel

Munster ‘A’ were denied right at the death in their opening British & Irish Cup pool match when the Cornish Pirates struck for a controversial penalty try to run out 10-6 winners at a well-attended Clonmel RFC.

Played in bitterly cold conditions at the County Tipperary venue, this was a fiercely-contested affair throughout. Munster 'A' faced into a gale force wind in the opening half yet trailed just 3-0 at half-time.

Ian Costello's side tied up matters with a 55th minute penalty from Scott Deasy and took a lead four minutes later that they held right until that late Pirates try.

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Credit to the Munster outfit, they won back possession from the restart in injury-time, finishing the match battering away at the Pirates deep inside the 22. But ultimately, that late penalty try was this fixture's defining moment.

The hosts really might have put this game beyond the southern English club's reach when carving out several clearcut opportunities.

Perhaps the best one came in the 70th minute when captain Billy Holland made a superb break but opted to look for the support outside.

He failed to find Ronan O'Mahony with a pass and the ball went to ground with the line at Munster's mercy, albeit with a number of metres still to be covered.

With Cornish Pirates attacking from the off, it looked like Munster 'A' had a long night ahead of them against the experienced Championship side.

But when Costello's charges settled they were inspired by Mick O'Driscoll, Paddy Butler and Dave Kilcoyne and upped their physicality. They matched the visitors at the breakdown and more importantly in the scrums.

The only score of the opening half came in the 38th minute when Pirates out-half Rob Cook kicked a penalty, making up for an earlier missed attempt.

Deasy was wide in the 49th minute before nailing two kicks in the space of four minutes for a lead that the Pirates, who had replacement Blair Cowan sin-binned, never really looked like overturning until the closing stages.

The try was awarded by referee Ian Tempest following a series of strong scrums from the Pirates, who were presented with the late opportunity to press for a try when Munster coughed up their own lineout ball.

Speaking afterwards, Munster 'A' boss Costello told the Irish Examiner: “I thought we were in control and we had chances to finish off the game, to get beyond the seven-point lead we would have needed.

“What transpired should have been in our control but we lost more lineouts than we would have expected, threw away a couple of loose passes in good attacking positions and turned over a couple of vital scrums. For all that, we should still have won.”

Referee: Ian Tempest (England)