07 Mar 14
Munster A just edged out Connacht Eagles 32-26 in an eight-try thriller at Dooradoyle this afternoon.
Only as the match wore on were the home players worn out, falling off tackles and making the match look what it was; a battle of amateurs against professionals.
Munster fielded one club player in their starting line-up while their hosts included just one "guest" in their starting XV in the form of Fijian international Netani Telai who proved his worth several times over and secured one of his team's two tries.
Melrose employed a swarming defence that had their guests rattled in the first half and if they left the wider channels a little understaffed Munster are not a club to run around the opposition when they can bully them into submission.
If Talei was the best home player, John Dalziel was not far behind as the veteran flanker set out his stall by claiming the very first kick off, snatching the ball out of Munster hands.
Munster should have been well ahead in the opening quarter that they dominated and they would have been had their hands not let them down on a cold day.
Still the visitors opened the scoring when pressure from a five-yard scrum saw blindside flanker David O'Callaghan drive over from short range.
That was the cue for Melrose to produce their best spell in this match that saw two tries for the home team. In the club's first visit to the Munster red zone, Talei drove over after darts from Scott Wight and Grant Runciman had set up the promising position.
Not long later lock Garry Elder, doing a shift on the left wing, was sent over the Munster line by his second-row colleague Graeme Dodds.
Elder even had the composure to run an extra 20 yards towards the posts to give Wight an easy conversion before flinging the ball into the air
Incredibly Melrose were 14-7 to the good with half an hour gone although Munster reacted immediately, grabbing a try after intercepting deep inside Melrose territory with centre Ivan Dineen claiming the score in the right corner.
If Munster had been hesitant in the first 40, they put that behind them after the break and they were back in the lead with quick scores from Tom Gleeson and Peter Borlase despite heroic tackling back from Runciman and David McColl with the latter winning a yellow card for slowing Munster's momentum.
Melrose winger Callum Anderson had enjoyed a great run in the first half but the winger's next contribution was less glorious when he slipped as he went to touch down a Munster kick over his own line, allowing Danny Barnes a simple score.
Kieron Essex got Munster's sixth and their seventh scores as the Irishmen ended this match far better than they had started it.
Munster: S Deasy, D Barnes ( SScanlon 60), T Gleeson, I Dineen ( T Smith 47), B Murphy; D Cusak, C Murray ( C Sheridan 70); D Ryan, S Henry (D Casey 70), P Borlase, B Holland (Foley 47), Dave Ryan ( S Archer 60), D O'Callaghan, T O'Donnell (Essex 55), P Butler.
Melrose: Thomson (Shaw 58 min), Anderson, Murray, Helps (Jackson 65), McColl; Wight, Chrystie (McCormack 55); Little, Innes (Ferguson 77), Beavon (Holburn 22), Dodds (Mitchell 65), Elder (Miller 50), Dalziel, Runciman, Talei.