Ronan injured in Munster defeat
Munster 6 Scarlets 13:Scarlets won for the first time in eight visits to Musgrave Park on a miserable night in Cork which also saw Ireland flanker Niall Ronan leave the field on a stretcher after suffering a head injury.
The openside went off after 36 minutes after a long injury stoppage after suffering a blow to the head after Jake Ball hurtled into a ruck near the halfway line, an incident which may result in the young Scarlets lock facing disciplinary action.
A Munster spokesman confirmed that Ronan, who was only returning to action tonight after a two-month absence with a groin injury, went to hospital as a precautionary measure but he is not expected to be kept overnight.
A penalty apiece from Ian Keatley and Aled Thomas were the only scores of a slow-burning first half played in atrocious conditions.
Thomas kicked the Welshmen ahead in the 68th minute before Andy Fenby pounced on a Felix Jones mistake to score his sixth try of the Pro12 season.
Thomas added an excellent conversion, but Munster answered back in injury time with replacement JJ Hanrahan’s penalty giving them a losing bonus point.
It took a while for the game to ignite, with a testing wind and French referee Laurent Cardona’s whistle having the most influence.
Munster fullback Jones tested the Scarlets rearguard with a dangerous kick chase, and the first sniff of a try saw hooker Mike Sherry hauled down a couple of metres out.
Scarlets, missing 15 players due to international call-ups, absorbed the early pressure and had the first shot at the posts, but Thomas’s wind-affected effort swung away to the left of the target.
Into the second quarter, Keatley and Thomas swapped penalties, with both sides guilty of unforced errors and static play.
The changes in personnel were an obvious factor and the stoppage for Ronan’s injury also broke up the momentum.
Munster pressed for a late try and Ronan’s replacement, South African CJ Stander, was held up on a close-range drive in injury time.
With the rain now teeming down into Munster’s faces, the Scarlets resumed in better fettle and Ball’s charge down almost led to the onrushing Jonathan Edwards scoring.
Thomas slid a penalty wide, failing to punish Munster for a scrum infringement. Spilled passes were a regular occurrence as conditions worsened.
A drop goal shot from Thomas went the wrong side of the left-hand post, and the Munster forwards responded with a strong spell of carrying and direct running.
Jones lifted the home crowd with two surges from deep, the second of which leading to Keatley hacking through and the Scarlets had to scramble back close to their line.
The Welsh side edged ahead with 12 minutes remaining, Thomas planting a penalty over with the aid of the left upright amid a strong period of scrummaging.
Led by man-of-the-match Emyr Phillips, Simon Easterby’s men held the upper hand in the scrum and continued to win decisions from Cardona.
Munster handed them a very soft try shortly afterwards. The Scarlets launched a kick chase after Luke O’Dea had coughed up possession in midfield, the retreating Jones getting two bites at the loose ball but seeing it squirt free over the whitewash for Fenby to flop onto it.
Thomas’s successful conversion put the seal on the Scarlets’ first victory over Munster in 16 meetings, a run stretching back to 2007.
The hosts earned a late bonus point, though, as Hanrahan split the posts with the final kick of the game.