Munsters Celtic League 6th round began in sunny weather at the Courage Gnoll in Neath. The support was heavily in favor of Neath, this owing to the fact that Munster are due to begin their bid for this years Heineken Cup next Saturday in Gloucester, and a large contingent of Munster fans will be traveling to that game. The main worry for Munster was the kicking exploits of Neath's Lee Jarvis, who kicked all the points to defeat Munster when they last met. Today started as if it was to be no different, within the first few minutes, Jarvis kicked a penalty to give Neath a 3 point lead. Munster would have gotten worried I am sure, were it not for the fact, that they also have a world class out half on their side, soon after Jarvis gave Neath the lead, Ronan O'Gara replied by kicking two penalties, to give Munster a 6-3 lead.
Munsters first try of the game was to come from the young and talented Mossie Lawlor, who broke from halfway following good work from Mike Mullins, Lawlor showed explosive speed, as he ran all the way to the Neath line, and touched down under the posts. The try was converted by O'Gara, to give Munster a 10 point lead, Munster 13 Neath 3.
Neath had plenty of chances in the first half, but unfortunately due to poor play, they were unable to produce results. Munster gave away two penalties, which Lee Jarvis made sure to turn into another 6 points for Neath. The first half saw Munster full back Jeremy Staunton, make some exciting breaks, and with 3 minutes to go in the first half, Staunton made a break and managed to jink his way through player after player, unfortunately a pass resulted in a knock on. But Staunton still had one or two moves up his sleeve, within a minute, a beautiful chip forward by Staunton found Henderson, who sent the ball out to Mossie Lawlor, who done well to carry the ball and pass to Jim Williams, who went over for a fine try. O'Gara converted, leaving the half time score Munster 20 Neath 9.
The second half started as a mirror image to the first half as Lee Jarvis kicked a penalty in the opening minutes, to take the score to 20-12. Munster pressured Neath in the second half, and in the 52nd minute Mick O'Driscoll took the ball from a line-out, and Munster drove over the Neath line, with Frankie Sheahan emerging as try scorer. O' Gara converted, score Munster 27 Neath 12.
As the flood lights came on at the Courage Gnoll, Simon Kerr made his entrance to the game by replacing Marcus Horan. Munster continued to charge towards the Neath line, and Rob Henderson was unlucky not to go over the line, instead Munster had to settle for a penalty, which O'Gara made sure of (30-12). Just as it seemed as if Munster were going to dominate the rest of the game, Neath suddenly came alive, A yellow card given to Simon Kerr for what seemed a deliberate knock on, gave Neath a new advantage. They opted to run a penalty and drive towards to the Munster line. Munster managed to hold them off, but gave away a penalty, Neath ran again, and drove over the Munster line, Duncan Jones the try scorer, Jarvis converted, score now Munster 30 Neath 19 and Munster down to 14 men.
Jim Williams left the field to allow Marcus Horan reenter the game, while Kerr done his time in the sin bin. Neath had now well and truly turned the tables and were putting constant pressure on the Munster line. Jarvis kicked to touch from a penalty to try and repeat their previous try maneuver, Neath gave away a scrum which they then turned around and were then awarded a scrum. Excellent tackling by the Munster backs ensured to avert any danger. Munster won a scrum and a Stringer pass allowed O'Gara to clear the line with a kick to touch.
Simon Kerr came back onto the field followed by Denis Leamy who replaced Jim Williams and Jason Holland who replaced Rob Henderson, who came off with a bloody nose. The game was now drawing to a close, and a lovely last minute loop over from Jason Holland saw Ronan O'Gara run in for a try (35-19). O'Gara did not manage to convert and sent the ball just left of the posts, which sparked a lot of the Neath supporters to throw in the towel, and head for the gate, just as the ref signaled for injury time. It was now just a matter of winding down, but poor Jason Holland received a yellow card for a high tackle and spent the last minute in the sin bin. And that was all the action at the Courage Gnoll, Final Score Munster 35 Neath 19.
Tries: Munster - Mossie Lawlor, Jim Williams, Frankie Sheahan, Ronan O'Gara. Neath - Duncan Jones.
Cons: Munster - Ronan O'Gara (3). Neath - Lee Jarvis (1)
Penalties: Munster - Ronan O'Gara (3). Neath - Lee Jarvis (4)
Jeremy Staunton, John Kelly, Mike Mullins, Rob Henderson, Mossie Lawlor, Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer, Marcus Horan, Frank Sheahan, John Hayes, Donnacha O'Callaghan, Mick O'Driscoll, Jim Williams (Capt.), Alan Quinlan, Anthony Foley.
Replacements: Simon Kerr, James Blaney, Mick Galwey, Eddie Halvey, Denis Leamy, Mike Prendergast, Dominic Malone, Jason Holland, Dominic Crotty.
Gareth Morris, James Storey, Dave Tiueti, Allan Bateman, Shane Williams, Lee Jarvis, Andy Moore, Shaun Connor, Sean Marsden, Patrick Horgan, Nathan Bonner-Evans, Steve Tandy, Steve Martin, Gareth Llewellyn, Andy Newman, Alfie Mocelutu, Hywel Jenkins, Andrew Millward, Adam Jones, Barry Williams, Steve Jones, Duncan Jones.