Tries from Paul Warwick in the opening half and David Wallace in the second helped Munster to a 24-16 win over Sale Sharks at Edgeley Road
And to add further woe to Sale Sharks and their supporters, a late drop goal from Ronan O’Gara denied the home side the consolation of a losing bonus point.
Munster enjoyed much the better of the exchanges in the first half at the end of which they led 13-6. An early second half O’Gara penalty pushed them ten points clear before a Luke McAllister penalty and his conversion of replacement Dean Schofield’s try tied the game with a little over twenty minutes left.
Wallace edged his side in front after a sustained bout of Munster pressure when he appeared on the right wing to score the all important try and although O’Gara was narrowly wide with the touchline conversion, he made amends with that final drop-goal.
Sale opened the scoring with a McAllister penalty inside five minutes before Munster’s response came via an O’Gara strike in the 17th. Enjoying the better offensive opportunities, the inevitable opening try arrived five minutes later when, after Keith Earls had made good ground up the right, O’Gara switched play left and Alan Quinlan’s brilliant offload left Warwick blast over for the five pointer. O’Gara added the conversion and shortly after Warwick collected a Richard Wigglesworth clearance and drilled over a forty metre drop goal on the run.
There were further opportunities for Munster, Tomas O’Leary, Paul O’Connell and Marcus Horan all stopped short of the tryline but the half ended with a penalty for McAllister to leave just a score separating the sides. (6-13).
The response from Sale to O’Gara’s 42nd minute penalty, came from the management, who sent on Charlie Hodgson and shortly after Dean Schofield and Sale enjoyed their best period, scoring ten unanswered points to level the match with 20 minutes to go.
However, Munster galvanised themselves, and having repelled a Shark attack on the right went downfield to set up the Wallace score. In the final moments O’Gara tagged on the drop-goal and move Munster to the head of affairs in Pool One.
Munster: P Warwick; D Howlett, K Earls, L Mafi, I Dowling; R O’Gara, T O’Leary; M Horan, J Flannery, J Hayes; D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell (capt); A Quinlan, J O’Sullivan, D Wallace. Replacements: J Melck for O’Sullivan (54 mins), D Ryan for Quinlan (68 mins), B Murphy for Melck (83 mins). Not used: D Fogarty, F Pucciariello, P Stringer, D Hurley. Sinbinned: Mafi (79 mins).
Sale Sharks: R Lamont; M Cueto, L McAlister, R Keil, D Doherty; R Wigglesworth, D Peel; L Faure, N Briggs, E Roberts; S Chabal, B Cockbain; C Jones, L Abraham, J Fernandez Lobbe (capt). Replacements: M Jones for Briggs, C Hodgson for Peel (both 46), D Schofield for Cockbain (52 mins), J White for Chabal (58 mins), S Turner for Roberts (69 mins), M Tait for Jones (74 mins). Not used: C Bell.
Referee: Christophe Berdos (France).