A superb injury time try from Denis Hurley – his second of the match – converted by Jeremy Manning gave Munster a 22-20 win over the Scarlets in Llanelli’s Parc Y Scarlets
The score came at a stage when it seemed Munster would have to settle for a bonus losing point after Daniel Evans had pushed the Scarlets lead out to five points with a late penalty.
However, to their credit, Munster forced their way down field for Alan Quinlan first to rob the ball and then skipper Mick O’Driscoll to drive into the Llanelli 22.
Scarlets managed to clear the danger but Doug Howlett gathered the clearance, ran it back intelligently and set up the field position for Hurley to skin the home defence.
Manning held his nerve to land the conversion and make up for an earlier one from in front of the posts that came back off an upright.
The home side enjoyed all the possession and the territory in the opening ten minutes of the game and should have been ahead early only that Rhys Priestland was off target with two penalties. He finally got off the mark in the 13th minute when Munster conceded their sixth penalty and by then they were down to 14 men, Denis Leamy yellow carded for not rolling away minutes earlier.
Manning was wide of the mark in the 17th minute but made amends three minutes later and then the best move of the game arrived when Niall Ronan linked superbly with Howlett who set Barry Murphy free, his inside pass spilled by Lifeimi Mafi with the try line in sight.
Munster continued to press, Denis Hurley picking off Manning’s delightful chip ahead and when Munster subsequently attacked off a middle of the field ruck, created by an impressive Damien Varley drive, Morland’s superb cut-out pass sent Hurley scampering over in the corner.
Manning converted then missed a penalty and Munster were once more reduced to 14 with the harsh dismissal of Donnacha Ryan in the 31st minute.
Munster continued to press but were caught when Llanelli broke out of their 22 for a length of the field try scored by Deacon Manu, converted by Priestland that left the sides tied at the break.
Mark Jones was helped over by his pack six minutes after the restart to put the Scarlets in front but ten minutes later, Toby Morland took advantage of confusion at the base of the scrum for a try, Manning’s conversion came back off the upright and it seemed Scarlets had done enough when Evans landed his kick but Munster had the final say.
Munster: Felix Jones; Doug Howlett, Barry Murphy (Tom Gleeson 73 min), Lifeimi Mafi, Denis Hurley; Jeremy Manning, Toby Morland (Tomas O’Leary 66 min); Julien Brugnaut (Tony Buckley 48 min), Damien Varley (Denis Fogarty 58 min), John Hayes; Donnacha Ryan, Mick O’Driscoll capt; Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan (Tommy O’Donnell ht), Denis Leamy.
Scarlets: Daniel Evans; Sean Lamont, Gareth Maule, Jonathan Davies, Mark Jones capt; Rhys Priestland, Martin Roberts; Iestyn Thomas, Ken Owens, Deacon Manu; Lou Reed, Dominic Day; Simon Easterby, Dafydd Jones, David Lyons. Replacements: Phil John, Emyr Phillips, Vernon Cooper, Richie Pugh, Lee Williams, Dan Newton, Rob Higgitt.