Munster stay strong in the storm to see off Scarlets
A late Gavin Coombes try gave Johann van Graan’s men a vital bonus point victory
Munster’s Billy Holland scores a try during their Pro14 win over Scarlets. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Munster 29 Scarlets 10
Gavin Coombes scored two late tries as Munster claimed an unlikely bonus-point victory over 13-man Scarlets at a stormy Thomond Park.
The crucial fourth try came in the 85th minute after Jack O’Sullivan, Billy Holland and Coombes had made sure of the win for the home side.
Scarlets had second row Sam Lousi sent off in the first half and replacement Tevita Ratuva sin binned late on, but they left Limerick empty handed after frustrating the home side for long periods.
Scarlets missed an early penalty when Angus O’Brien’s kick was blown off target, but after six minutes Dan Jones landed a closer kick for a 3-0 lead.
Munster had their chances in those early stages too, but they lost three lineout throws inside the Scarlets 22, while their handling in contact and hunger for the battle wasn’t perfect in those early exchanges too.
But they gradually improved and when Hanrahan kicked a 21st minute penalty to level matters the points were well deserved.
The game turned when Lousi became embroiled in an incident and connected with Hanrahan and Fineen Wycherley with a couple of swinging hooks. He was correctly sent off for the foolish incident.
It only took Munster a minute to add to Scarlets’ misery when they tapped the penalty and Jack O’Sullivan slithered over to give Munster a 10-3 half-time advantage.
A half-time restructuring saw centre Paul Asquith withdrawn and lock Ratuva introduced and to their credit Scarlets coped well being a player short, but it was the home side that stretched the advantage 12 minutes later.
A Munster lineout drive didn’t make the desired impact, but after Kevin O’Byrne’s initial surge, Holland eased his way over the line when Scarlets failed to defend the short side. Hanrahan was unable to add the extras.
Facing a 15-3 deficit Scarlets looked doomed, but they lifted their challenge and won a few penalties deep in Munster territory. The scrummaged both and eventually replacement prop Javan Sebastian forced his way over for a converted try.
That try lifted Scarlets, but they were quickly reduced to 13 players when Ratuva was sin binned. Munster made the most of their numerical advantage and Coombes scored their third try eight minutes from time.
It appeared as if their late efforts would fall short when Darren Sweetnam and Diarmuid Barron came close, but in the 85th minute Coombes struck again and Munster claimed the maximum haul.
Scorers – Munster: J O’Sullivan, B Holland, G Coombes 2 tries; JJ Hanrahan pen, 3 cons. Scarlets: J Sebastian try; D Jones pen, con.
Munster: M Haley; C Nash, C Farrell, D Goggin, D Sweetnam; JJ Hanrahan, C Casey; J Cronin, K O’Byrne, S Archer; F Wycherley, B Holland; A Botha, C Cloete, J O’Sullivan.
Replacements: G Coombes for Wycherley (33-40, blood & 68 mins), J Loughman for Cronin (58 mins), J Ryan for Archer (58 mins), J Hodnett for Cloete (63 mins), T O’Donnell for O’Sullivan (67 mins), R Scannell for Goggin (70 mins), N McCarthy for Casey (75 mins), D Barron for O’Byrne (75 mins).
Scarlets: A O’Brien; C Baldwin, P Asquith, S Hughes, S Evans; D Jones, J Evans; P Price, T Davies, W Kruger; L Rawlins, S Lousi; A Shingler, J Macleod, U Cassiem.
Replacements: I Phillips for T Davies (2 mins), T Ratuva for Asquith (half-time), J Sebastian for Kruger (54 mins), D Davis for Cassiem (63 mins), S Cummins for Rawlings (68 mins), D Evans for Price (70 mins), D Blacker for J Evans (74 mins), R Conbeer for Jones (75 mins).
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU).