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Good Time For A First Time

February 9, 2013 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

The last time Munster won here in Musgrave Park, was back in August (17th) in a pre-season game against English Championship side Bristol.

But since then they've come up short, in the friendly against London Irish and then Scarlets and Cardiff Blues in the RaboDirect PRO12.

And given the results from last night and what faces Munster in the weeks immediately ahead, this would be just about the absolute right time for the first time.

They are one of five teams with realistic aspirations of a claiming one of the three remaining places  in the play offs. 

And they're placed fifth of that bunch.

After tonight they take to the road, first to Llanelli and then to Treviso who number Ospreys and Scarlets among their victims at Stadio di Monigo this season in the RaboDirect PR012. Then it's home to an Ospreys side that look, on the evidence of their 26-11 win in Ravenhill last night.
 to have rediscovered their mojo.

So huge importance attaches itself to this game this evening and while Rob Penney has by and large the personnel he'd expect to have to choose his pack from, and it includes Munster most capped forward Marcus Horan,  he's down five of what at this phase of the season, might be termed, five of his regular backline starters.

On the last two occasions the sides have played in Munster it's been at Thomond Park Stadium. And the last time it was played here in Musgrave Park, it needed a 58th minute Scott Deasy try and subsequent penalty to sort out a one-score win.

It'll likely be just as close tonight.

Munster: Denis Hurley; Johne Murphy, Ivan Dineen, JJ Hanrahan, Danny Barnes; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Marcus Horan, Damien Varley, BJ Botha; Ian Nagle, Billy Holland; CJ Stander, Sean Dougall, James Coughlan capt. Replacements: Mike Sherry, Wian du Preez, John Ryan, Dave Foley, Tommy O'Donnell, Paddy Butler, Cathal Sheridan, Scott Deasy.

Edinburgh Rugby: Greig Tonks; Dougie Fife, Ben Cairns, Ben Atiga, Tom Brown; Piers Francis, Richie Rees; John Yapp, Andy Titterrell, Willem Nel; Perry Parker, Izak van der Westhuizen; Sean Cox capt, Stuart McInally, Netani Talei. Replacements:  Steven Lawrie, Allen Jacobsen, Alex Allen, Grant Gilchrist, Hamish Watson, Chris Leck, Gregor Hunter, Lee Jones.

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Solid Second Half Swings It

February 10, 2013 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Long before CJ Stander scored their first try – his third in two starts – the near unerring boot of Ian Keatley had signalled Edinburgh’s fate.

Keatley kicked two from three in an opening half that saw Munster reduced to 14 when BJ Botha was yellow carded in the 12th minute, to give his side a slender 6-3 interval lead. However it was his four penalties in the third and early part of the fourth quarter that were the cornerstone of Munster's 30-3 win that keeps them very much in touch with the leaders in the RaboDirect PRO12.

And afterwards Keatley acknowledged the work of his forwards in giving him those opportunities. "I thought they (pack) were pretty impressive particularly in the second half. It was them that created the platform and it's my job to kick the goals."

And kick them he did with a certain degree of nonchalance, albeit if there two that slipped past, one in the opening half that even he must have been annoyed he missed.

And given Munster's performance in that period was less than inspired it might have seemed crucial. Credit though to an Edinburgh side who were always prepared to play rugby and who had in Netani  Talei, Izak van der Westhuizen and skipper Sean Cox players prepared to run hard at Munster at every opportunity.

Referee Ian Davies had for some reason issues with Botha's scrummaging and it eventually earned the South African a yellow card and cost his side three points.

The half ended with Edinburgh probing left and right and Munster forced to defend stoutly.

There was an immediate sense of added urgency with the Munster side in the second half. The best opportunity of a try came when Johne Murphy almost latched onto a JJ Hanrahan kick through and the alarm bells were jangling again in the Edinburgh ranks when Hanrahan repeated the dose a little later, Dougie Fife again the Edinburgh saviour.

Munster forced the penalty after 8 minutes and Keatley stretched the lead. Three more similar strikes from the out-half and with the Munster eight now in control of the game, and the rain misting into Edinburgh faces from the Well end, the outcome was sealed.

The young Munster backs now given the cushion to express themselves introduced a bit of inventiveness – Danny Barnes asking questions of the Scots defence at every opportunity –  and when the hard working Ivan Dineen made good yards down the touchline his perfectly weighted kick was gathered by Stander to race in under the posts.

Four minutes from time Munster's endeavour was again rewarded when another of the young brigade, replacement Mike Sherry, forced his way in at the right hand corner at the Dolphin end.

Munster: Denis Hurley; Johne Murphy, Ivan Dineen, JJ Hanrahan, Danny Barnes (Deasy 69 min); Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams (Sheridan 69 min); Marcus Horan (du Preez 54 min), Damien Varley (Sherry 52 min), BJ Botha (Ryan 66 min); Ian Nagle (Foley 71 min), Billy Holland; CJ Stander, Sean Dougall (O'Donnell 67 min), James Coughlan capt. (Butler 66 min).

Edinburgh Rugby: Greig Tonks; Dougie Fife, Ben Cairns, Ben Atiga, Tom Brown; Piers Francis, Richie Rees; John Yapp, Andy Titterrell, Willem Nel; Perry Parker, Izak van der Westhuizen; Sean Cox capt, Stuart McInally, Netani Talei. Replacements: Steven Lawrie, Allen Jacobsen, Alex Allen, Grant Gilchrist, Hamish Watson, Chris Leck, Gregor Hunter, Lee Jones.
 

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