Scarlets continue the charge as Ronan picks up head injury
Munster 6 Scarlets 13Munster lost for the first time in 16 games at Musgrave Park, but a head injury picked up by Niall Ronan will concern Rob Penney more then the manner of the defeat.
Simon Easterby’s Scarlets continue their charge, thanks to Andy Fenby’s late try in desperate conditions at the Cork venue, but JJ Hanrahan sealed a deserved losing bonus point for the home side with a late penalty.
Ronan was carried off 37 minutes into his latest injury comeback after a collision at ruck time with Scarlets lock Jake Ball, but despite receiving treatment on the field for seven minutes, initial reports suggest his injury was not as serious as first feared.
After the sides shared six points in the opening half, the game was in the balance midway through the second half with Munster camped deep in Scarlets territory. However, a set move off the back of a scrum failed when Luke O’Dea fumbled. And within seconds Munster had conceded the crucial try.
Felix Jones had two chances to gather and clear the danger inside his own 22, but he also couldn’t gather the ball and Fenby dived on the spillage and got the vital downward pressure.
The excellent Aled Thomas landed the difficult conversion to clinch the victory, and Munster needed Hanrahan’s late kick into the teeth of the Musgrave gale for Munster to pick up anything.
Ronan’s misfortune meant an earlier than expected introduction for new South African backrow CJ Stander and on the verge of half-time he came within inches of his first try for the Reds, only for the television match official to rule he was held short of the line.
Ian Keatley has earlier kicked Munster into a 3-0 lead in the 23rd minute after a sustained period of pressure from Penney’s side. But up until that time the Scarlets, who have lost only twice in the league this season, had defended very well, and had managed to snuff out any half-chances that Munster had developed.
In the icy, wet conditions the scrum was always going to be a minefield, and with both sides vying for the upperhand the penalties began to flow.
Stephen Archer was impressive early on against veteran prop Phil John, but Scarlets’ only score of the opening half came from an infringement at the scrum. Aled Thomas pinned Munster back on their own line, and after their rolling maul was instantly halted, the home side conceded the penalty after Jacobie Adriaanse carried into contact.
After the sides went in 3-3 at the break, referee Laurent Cardona, in his first Pro12 game, awarded Scarlets another penalty which stemmed from a wheeled scrum, which Thomas converted in the 67th minute, and three minutes later his side sealed the win with Fenby’s sixth try of the season.