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Munster Impress In Win Over Nottingham

February 12, 2010 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Munster notched up their sixth win on the bounce this season with this impressive 18-3 win over Nottingham to take a clear lead in Pool B of the British & Irish Cup.

Out-half Declan Cusack kicked all of his side’s point, six from a possible seven penalties, in what was an all-round impressive performance from the Thomond clubman.

However it was his pack and livewire scrum-half Conor Murray who really set the tone for this victory and if the onlooking Anthony Foley had to be impressed with his captain number 8 Peter O’Mahony, then Foley’s match day manager Mick Galwey must have been equally impressed with second-rows Ian Nagle and Dave Foley.

Backs and forwards tackled like dervishes clearly unsettling their physically bigger opponents in the first half. The clear out at ruck-time was ferocious while the support play was of the highest order, backs combining with their forwards to keep Munster on the front foot for long periods in that opening.

The nearest Nottingham came to making serious inroads into a nine point deficit came late in the second quarter when Tim Streather, for the only time in the game, busted the midfield defence and sped for what looked a certain try. However the excellent Danny Riordan aided by fellow defenders managed to hold him up over the line, Munster turned over the subsequent five metre scrum and O’Mahony’s counter attack took play to the 22.

A week ago, Munster’s second half performance saw off Connacht but this time around, it was their first half display that put this result to bed.

Playing with invention, adventure and patience, roared on by a noisy near 4,000 crowd, they caused Nottingham all sorts of bother in the opening half. Initially they incurred the wrath of whistle happy Dave Jones but their first award 40 metres out, after prop Ben Buxton had been penalised for over exuberance at a ruck, was converted superbly by Cusack.

Riordan’s break from his own 22 was carried on by O’Mahony and Dave Kilcoyne to take play into the opposing 22 and when the play was switched right, Nottingham went offside and Cusack knocked over his second penalty.

He added two more from distance to give his side a 12-3 interval lead – Dave Marshall had kicked a 38th minute penalty – but arguably the period that defined this match came at the start of the second half.

Nottingham emerged with their ears obviously ringing and quickly established themselves in Munster’s half. They were awarded a penalty well within kicking range but opted for position and Marshall fired a kick into the corner for a five metre line-out.  They won it in the air but lost it on the ground thanks to the Munster pack’s counter rucking and Cusack launched a howitzer of a clearance kick.

Moments later another penalty award, this time Marshall opted for the posts. He missed that and when they were awarded a third, again moments later and again within kicking distance, they opted instead for a scrum that was subsequently disrupted to lift the siege once.

It might have been a case of, ‘can’t go through ’em, can’t go around ’em’, that led Nottingham take to the air. But the garryowens and delicate chips were  gobbled up by Riordan, Ciaran O’Boyle, Ed Kelly and Sean Scanlon and long before this half was over, there was never much doubt about who was going to win this match.

Afterwards, clearly content coach Anthony Foley said. "These lads just love playing together. I think that was very evident out there tonight. They back each other, they wont leave each other down. We encourage them to play heads-up rugby and they do that.

"There was a bit of disruption with the boys away in warm-weather camp but we planned for that. A lot of these lads tonight are coming straight from the AIB League and I think this performance tonight shows what a great job the clubs are doing."

Munster: Danny Riordan; Ciaran O’Boyle, Danny Barnes, Eric Moloney, Sean Scanlon; Declan Cusack (Andrew Burke 80 min) , Conor Murray (Paul Rowley 78 min); Dave Kilcoyne (Ger Slattery 80 min), Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer (Pa O’Regan 80 min); Ian Nagle, Dave Foley (Sean Duggan 80 min); Ed Kelly (Neville Melbourne 79 min), Barry O’Mahony, Peter O’Mahony capt.

Nottingham: Andy Savage; Jack Cobden, Tim Streather, Greig Tonks, Donald Blake; Dave Marshall, Dan White; Peter Cook, Greg Sammons, Ben Buxton; Ian Nimmo, Nic Carter; Jonny Baird, Matt Everard, Dan Hemingway. Replacements: Neil Fowkes, Tom Youngs, Petrus Du Plessis, Nic Rouse, Phil Eggleshaw, Will Nelson, Jamie Barnard.

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