O'Gara bloodied after losing kicking contest
Scarlets 18 Munster 10:Bloodied and beaten, the only consolation for Ronan O’Gara from this appearance on Saturday was getting a full 80 minutes ahead of Declan Kidney’s selection meeting for the Scotland game. The veteran would have hoped to make a statement of intent for Murrayfield following the loss of Jonathan Sexton, however this wasn’t one of his better days.
O’Gara missed goal twice inside the opening six minutes, scuffed a third from in front of the posts in the second half and after his injury-time conversion was rendered meaningless, he departed with blood seeping down his neck from under the bandage covering a gash to his head.
The misses are likely to have little bearing upon selection for the green jersey though they hurt Munster, who slipped to home-and-away defeats in the league to Scarlets for the first time. Munster head coach Rob Penney said: “Obviously, he [O’Gara] missed a couple of shots at goal which didn’t help us get any momentum but I am sure he will be better for the game.
“That [Ireland] team hasn’t been picked yet. He will be better for playing the whole game so let’s see what happens on the back of that.”
O’Gara received more vocal support from opposition head coach Simon Easterby, a former Ireland team-mate.
Easterby said: “Luckily, [O’Gara] didn’t bring his right kicking boots, he missed a couple and we took advantage of that. But he will always rise to the challenge and I am sure he will step in and take control of that position [for Ireland].
“I’m not sure how long Jonny is going to be out for but Rog has been there, done it and that experience will be huge for Ireland over the next couple of weeks because they have lost Gordon D’Arcy as well. I’m sure Rog will step up and hopefully he will put this couple of kicks behind him and go well next week.”
O’Gara had the final say at Parc Y Scarlets when he converted Denis Hurley’s injury-time try, though it was academic after Scarlets’ ambition out-weighed Munster’s efficiency in the set-piece as Owen Williams kicked the hosts 18-3 ahead.
Penney said: “It wasn’t disappointing all-round. There were a few good individual performances to come out of it. The outcome was not what we wanted but there was some elements there that were good. However we got pinged off the park at crucial times and we made too many errors.”
A second defeat in three games has left Munster in sixth place as the race towards the play-offs enters the final straight. They are only five points off the Scarlets, who leapt to fourth place with this win ahead of the Ospreys, who face Munster in a fortnight in what could be a key tie.
Penney said: “It is a really difficult conundrum to predict who is going to end up in that top four. It is very tight. There is still a lot of footie to go. . .”