Last-gasp try delivers victory for Munster
O’Mahony scores in the dying moments of game
Munster coach Rob Penney: “When we got into that formation we were using in the last couple of minutes after the last scrum we had, we were able to build some pressure.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Munster pulled six points clear at the top of the PRO12 standings, but – for the second week in a row – they needed some late heroics to clinch victory against Scarlets at Musgrave Park.
JJ Hanrahan, the hero in Perpignan, turned creator this time as Ronan O’Mahony scored in the dying moments of a game which Munster were lucky to win as their inexperienced side were out-muscled and out-fought by Simon Easterby’s men for long periods.
However, two late yellow cards for Scarlets meant Munster finally got the chance to get to grips with their Welsh opponents and after pummelling their defensive cover for the last five minutes, the gap finally appeared out wide and JJ Hanrahan found O’Mahony with an accurate kick. Patience paid off, said coach Rob Penney.
“I thought if we can build some pressure they’re always a chance,” said Penney. “We hadn’t been able to effectively do it during the game . . . but when we got into that formation we were using in the last couple of minutes after the last scrum we had, we were able to build some pressure.”
But the win has come at a cost, with BJ Botha limping off with a right knee injury, while concussion protocols will be followed for Dave O’Callaghan, Duncan Casey and Tommy O’Donnell ahead of Friday’s derby tussle with Connacht.
Casey’s first Munster start lasted barely 30 minutes before he had to be replaced by another debutant, Niall Scannell. Both young hookers were terrific though: Casey hit six lineouts from six, Scannell didn’t miss a target either and both were heavily involved in the loose.
And after a forgettable first half where Aled Thomas and Hanrahan early penalties left the sides level 3-3 at the break, Scarlets suddenly capitalised on some slack Munster defence and scored an excellent try from deep, which Kristian Phillips conjured and John Barclay ran in under the posts.
Two Hanrahan penalties had trimmed that advantage back to 10-9 by the closing stages, but with a two-man disadvantage it was only a matter of time until Scarlets ran out of numbers.
‘Credit to the lads’
The late yellow cards in the 74th and 76th minutes for Rob Evans and Mike Poole
annoyed Simon Easterby, but he seemed more irked by the manner in which referee Nigel Davies and his TMO awarded the winning score deep into added time.
“It is not the cross-field kick that we were considering to be an offence, it was the knock on at the base of the ruck,” said the former Irish international. “And the touch judge called it in to the referee and still we didn’t see a clear picture of it when we went back to the footage.”
Penney said he saw nothing wrong with the winning score, but conceded his side were dominated for long periods.
“They dominated us at times . . . It wasn’t a class performance by any means but credit to the lads, they just knuckled down and . . . we picked up a result.”