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Warriors Win Out Against Munster ‘A’

Warriors Win Out Against Munster ‘A’

Munster ‘A’ suffered a 23-18 defeat at CIT tonight as a strong second half comeback saw Worcester Warriors make it two wins over the province in Pool 3 of the British & Irish Cup.

An encouraging start from Munster 'A' saw them win the opening three penalties of the game within seven minutes, with Worcester hampered by the early sin-binning of winger Josh Watkins for taking out Rory Scannell in the air.

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The second of those penalties was in a kickable position but the hosts showed their intent from the off – feeling they had Warriors on the back foot, they opted to kick for touch.

Good defence from Warriors saw them keep Munster 'A' out, but it was not long before the pressure presented out-half Scannell with another penalty, and this time he was called upon to successfully land the three-pointer.

A penalty at scrum time allowed Ignacio Mieres to level matters for Warriors on 10 minutes and with the penalty count now going the way of the visitors, Mieres put them 6-3 ahead after Munster 'A' went offside in defence.

However the province's reply was swift. A superb 20th minute take in the air from Sean McCarthy and a neat pass for the onrushing Jack O'Donoghue saw the captain leave the Warriors defence for dead as he charged down the wing for his second British & Irish Cup try in less than a week.

Scannell was left and wide with the conversion attempt, leaving Mick O'Driscoll's side with an 8-6 advantage which they would soon extend handsomely thanks to some wonderful interplay.

Impressing on his first British & Irish Cup outing, Garryowen scrum half Neil Cronin sent a beautifully weighted kick behind the visitors' defence. Andrew Conway charged onto it and there was not stopping the full-back as he crossed the whitewash in the right corner after 25 minutes.

Scannell added an impressive touchline conversion to make it 15-6 with Munster 'A' now well in command.

O'Driscoll's charges were unlucky not to be in again just minutes later. Well-executed phases brought them from Worcester's 22-metre line to within inches of the whitewash. With Niall Scannell tackled short of the line, further patient and composed phases saw Ronan O'Mahony touch down on 36 minutes – only for referee Rhys Thomas to adjudge he knocked on in the grounding.

Feeling the heat, Warriors coughed up another penalty, this time for going off their feet. Fortunately for them, Scannell sent it just left and wide from a difficult angle to leave the score 15-6 at the break.

However, Warriors emerged a different force in the second period. No longer were they bossed around the pitch by Munster 'A'. Winning the lion's share of penalties, they kicked to touch with each one, wearing down and tiring out what had been until then a solid home defence.

Sustained pressure meant it was not long before the gaps appeared and Warriors skipper JB Bruzulier did well to evade a number of Munstermen on his way to touching down on 61 minutes.

Mieres' successful conversion made it a full seven-point return for the English club and brought them to within two points of Munster 'A'.

No cause for panic at this stage, Munster 'A' responded well with some skillful play and strong running. Once back in the Warriors' 22, they forced the penalty for Scannell in a favourable position and with the kick successfully landed the lead was back to five points (18-13).

Crucially though, Warriors found another gear, retaining possession and making better use of ball in hand with their physical pack in impressive form.

Further sustained pressure allowed them to poke holes in the Munster 'A' defence and for the second time, missed tackles cost the hosts dearly as replacement scrum half Charlie Mulchrone touched down by the posts in the 71st minute. Mieres converted to make it 20-18 to Worcester.

With only minutes to play and knowing a drop goal or penalty would cost them a precious victory on the road, the visitors maintained good discipline and a strong defence, driving Munster 'A' backwards in attack and not conceding any late penalties in kickable positions.

In fact, the final penalty of the night went the way of Worcester in the final minute of the game. Mieres was again on target and in doing do secured a 23-18 success in front of a crowd of 600 at CIT Sports Stadium.

Securing a losing bonus point, Munster 'A' now travel to face Moseley at Billesley Common next Saturday afternoon (kick-off 2pm) in the final round of the pool stages. They can still reach the quarter-finals as one of the three best runners-up from the five pools.

Referee: Rhys Thomas (Wales)