In what is unquestionably the toughest and most competitive Pool in this year’s competition, the bonus point that Munster somehow salvaged in their 23-17 defeat at the Madjeski could yet prove invaluable.
It came at a stage when all looked lost after Delon Armitage had kicked Irish into a 23-12 lead with less than seven minutes to go with Ronan O'Gara threading through a delicate kick for Sam Tuitupou to run onto to gather and score.
Mind you afterwards, speaking to Sky TV's Melissa Platt, the ever practical and honest O'Gara, when asked about the significance of the bonus point, replied with a wry laugh, “Well not much really, if we don't add a few wins to it.”
And that was a theme continued by London Irish coach Toby Booth when he said. ” I don't want the issue of Munster getting a bonus point clouding what we achieved here.” But you would have to imagine he wasn't best pleased with that late strike and his, “It may become significant in January,” could prove to be prescient.
Four first half penalties and drop goal from Ryan Lamb had the home side 15-6 in front at the break and Munster courted disaster just after the restart when Johne Murphy's attempted pass to Denis Hurley was intercepted by Topsy Ojo for a long range try.
O'Gara as is his wont, kept Munster hanging in there with two penalties and after a succession of drives by the pack, Armitage somehow managed to get himself under Tony Buckley's plunge for the tryline. From the recycle it was Leamy's turn but once again a superb tackle ended his ambition and the ball was lost forward.
It looked that all of Munster's effort would come to nought when Armitage kicked his penalty from a metre inside his own half – and moments later he missed from similar distance – but undaunted Munster delivered one last effort and were rewarded with that Tuitupou try.
Munster: J Murphy; D Howlett, K Earls (P Warwick 69 mins), S Tuitupou, D Hurley, R O'Gara, P Stringer (D Williams 72 mins); W du Preez (M Horan 64 mins), D Varley (M Sherry 77 mins), T Buckley (J Hayes 64 mins); D O'Callaghan, D Ryan (M O'Driscoll 56 mins); D Leamy capt, N Ronan (D Wallace 32 mins) J Coughlan.
London Irish: D Armitage; T Ojo, E Seveali, S Mapusua, S Tagicakibau (J Joseph); R Lamb, P Hodgson; C Dermody, J Buckland (D Paice), F Rautenbach (A Corbisiero); N Kennedy, B Casey (M Garvey); K Roche, D Danaher (C Hala'ufia), G Stowers.
Referee: Christophe Berdos (Fra).