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Munster Suffer Bristol Defeat

Munster Suffer Bristol Defeat

Munster’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the British & Irish Cup took a hit when they went down 27-10 to Pool B rivals Bristol on Tuesday night.

Anthony Foley's men remain top of the table after completing their pool campaign with three wins and two defeats. Munster have 15 points, but both Bristol (14 points) and Llanelli (13) could overhaul them in the coming days.

Llanelli entertain Nottingham this afternoon in their final pool game, while Bristol face a trip to Melrose next Saturday.

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Munster enjoyed the better of the exchanges in the opening half at the Memorial Stadium and went in at the break with just a 6-3 deficit.

Bristol were reduced to 14 men after flanker James Merriman was sin-binned on the stroke of half-time.

However, the English side made light of the numerical disadvantage and scored two penaty tries plus an intercept score to put the game beyond Munster's reach.

Replacement Paul Rowley grabbed a late consolation try for the visitors, whose other points came from the boot of out-half Declan Cusack.

Munster's disappointment was compounded by the neck injury sustained by centre Tom Gleeson, who was carried off on a stretcher with seven minutes remaining.

The province defended a series of early drives from the Bristol forwards, before Cusack converted a seventh minute penalty.

The Garryowen clubman created his side's first try-scoring opportunity with a well-weighted cross-field kick, but Sean Scanlon was unable to link with supporting full-back Scott Deasy.

The action was fast-paced and both sides tried to get their backs in gear, with some crisp passing and intelligent lines of running.

Munster failed to convert their territorial advantage into points, with some close range drives thwarted by the Bristol defence. Cusack also missed his second shot at the posts.

Bristol used their solid scrum to put the visitors under pressure and out-half Ed Barnes mopped up with two successful penalties after a couple of unforced errors from the Munster rearguard.

Merriman and Munster number 8 Paddy Butler were both yellow carded and crucially Bristol began to force the issue up front.

Their number 10 Barnes was short with a long range penalty. Butler then saw yellow following a powerful maul from Bristol and a resulting melee.

With Merriman back on the pitch, Bristol drove forward again and forced a penalty try which Barnes converted for a 13-3 scoreline.

Suddenly, Munster, who lost lock Dave Foley to the sin-bin after the concession of a second penalty try, were staring at defeat.

Foley saw yellow for killing the ball close to his try-line. The result was all but confirmed when home winger Anthony Elliott intercepted a long flat pass to run in Bristol's third try, and Barnes again added the extras.

Munster responded with an effort from Paul Rowley set up by some neat passing. Cusack converted but Bristol were out of sight by that stage.

Referee: Sean Brickwell (Wales)