Stander impresses on debut as pack takes the load
Munster 31 Glasgow 3:Munster warmed up for their back-to-back Heineken Cup clashes with Saracens with a bonus point victory over Warriors at Thomond Park on Saturday. All four tries were constructed and finished by the pack, but a first-half brace from CJ Stander in his first start wowed the home fans in a performance that left Rob Penney a happy man.
“That was a good confidence booster heading into another important week. If you had said to me before the game that the scoreline would have been such I would have been really blown away given the quality of Glasgow,” he said.
“CJ’s first start, obviously he exploded a couple of times and ripped them up, and showed what genuine pace can give you when you’ve got that in your backrow.
“The backrow functioned really well and both Paddy [Butler] and Billy [Holland] when they came on added very real value to the effort which is what you want off the bench.”
But Penney’s glee will be softened by a recurrence of O’Donnell’s ankle injury, which could threaten his participation on Saturday, especially after another try-scoring show from the flanker.
“Yeah, Tommy has been good for us all year, I thought he had a blinder against Cardiff. He has had a tremendous month and I hope he can keep solid, he has a bit of an ankle injury going on and had to come off again with that today.”
After all the show of the first half, it wasn’t until six minutes from time that Munster sealed the bonus point with a penalty try that sees them leapfrog Warriors into fourth place.
And where they struggled to convert chances against Scarlets in Musgrave Park last week, Penney’s side took most chances on offer on Saturday.
Stander did well to touch down at the base of the post for his opener in the eighth minute after O’Donnell was held just short, but his second try two minutes from the break – a lung-bursting effort from his own 22 – brought the Limerick venue to its feet.
Ronan O’Gara returned to the outhalf berth and displayed his customary cool kicking acumen, including two terrific conversions from the right touchline, while Keith Earls and Simon Zebo also impressed after returning from international duty, while James Coughlan also returned from injury.