Scott Deasy’s five out of five return was just enough to give Munster a one point victory in the British and Irish Cup as they defeated Nottingham 15-14 in Meadow Lane on Friday night.
With the first half possession favouring the home side and Munster’s ever increasing penalty tally, three points apiece after the half hour mark was a positive return for the Billy Holland captained side.
Nottingham outhalf James Arlidge opened the scoring on the ninth minute, after previously missing his first attempt, and as the penalties continued to mount against Munster Tommy O’Donnell found himself in the bin after 20 minutes.
Nottingham were unable to take advantage of the extra man and it was Munster that added points during the 10 minute period, with outhalf Scott Deasy kicking his first penalty chance.
The Nottingham side, with the majority of possession and attacking breaks in the opening 40 missed out on possible scoring opportunities, opting to chip the ball through rather than keeping it in hand and making the most of numbers out wide.
That and a scrambling defensive effort from Danny Barnes in the 26th minute kept the home side from crossing the line, before a final break from centre Andrew Forsyth gave fullback David Jackson the space to score the only try of the game in injury time of the first half.
Arlidge missed the conversion to open the gap, leaving a five point margin going in at the break, 8-3 to Nottingham.
On the return both sides started with 14 men after Billy Holland (bringing down the maul) and number 8 Sione Kalamafoni (off the ball incident) picked up yellows in the dying minutes of the opening half.
Two minutes into the action and Barry Murphy was helped off after picking up a foot injury, with Simon Zebo taking his place on the wing.
Munster went ahead for the first time after 49 minutes with Deasy kicking two successive penalties, 8-9. But Nottingham were back in the driving seat with another Arlidge kick after 53 minutes going ahead 11-9.
The 3,189 strong crowd were left with a nervy and fiercely contested final twenty minutes as both outhalves exchanged further penalties before Deasy booted Munster ahead with his fifth penalty after 74 minutes.
Anthony Foley’s young side showed their best defensive effort in the closing minutes as the Nottingham pack, led by Kalamafoni, battered the Munster line but a final knock-on put an end to any hopes of scoring and Munster held on to a one point lead, claiming a crucial 14-15 victory in Meadow Lane.
Munster: Denis Hurley, Danny Barnes, Tom Gleeson, Ivan Dineen (Declan Cusack 60), Barry Murphy (Simon Zebo 42), Scott Deasy, Conor Murray (Duncan Williams 60), Dave Kilcoyne, Sean Henry (Duncan Casey 58), Stephen Archer (Peter Borlase 49), Dave Foley, Ian Nagle (Dave O’Callaghan 78), Billy Holland (Capt.), Tommy O'Donnell, Paddy Butler. Replacements: Duncan Casey, Peter Borlase, Dave O'Callaghan, Kieran Essex, Duncan Williams, Declan Cusack, Simon Zebo.
Nottingham: David Jackson, Andrew Savage, Andrew Forsyth, Lotomau Jr. Sifa, Timothy Streather, James Arlidge, Tim Usasz, Jonathan Harris, Jimmy Stevens, Martin Halsall, Ian Kench, Alexander Williams, Craig Hammond (Capt.), Luke Sherriff, Sione Kalamafoni. Replacements: Finlay Barnham , David Marshall, Stephen Hamilton, Alexander Shaw, Tom Youngs, Benjamin Buxton, Christopher Eggleshaw.
Referee: J.Van Der Merwe