Although trailiing by 24 points after 55 minutes Munster A responded with three tries and one conversion to finish within 7 points of Ulster A on a 31-38 scoreline in this afternoon’s ‘A’ Interprovincial at Naas RFC.
Today's Ulster A backline included two of Ireland's World Cup internationals with centre Darren Cave captaining the side and winger Tommy Bowe back from a serious knee injury sustained against Argentina six months ago in the World Cup. While Munster welcomed the return of Duncan Casey who successfully rehabbed a pectoral muscle sustained in November against Treviso.
The northerners showed their experience in the opening exchanges and were quick to get a hold on the game with 3 tries scored in the opening 20 minutes after Lorcan Dow, Jacob Stockdale and Dave Shanahan shared the spoils. Ireland U20s outhalf Johnny McPhillips added two conversions.
Munster A finally got the scoreboard ticking over thanks to great work from centre Dan Goggin who made the initial break before winger Stephen Fitzgerald gathered his own kick chase to dot down, with David Johnston adding the extras.
Ulster reclaimed the 19-point margin on the half-hour mark with a second converted Lorcan Dow try, however Mick O'Driscoll's young charges once again fought back and closed the half out with a try from captain Cian Bohane from close range and with Johnston kicking the conversion it was 14-26 at the interval.
On resumption Ulster once again showed impressive form and capitalised with two quick scores through replacement winger Rory Scholes and Ulster A captain Darren Cave. McPhillips added the latter's conversion after 55 minutes and that was to be the final points for the northern province.
With both sides making a number of changes and calling on extended benches it was Munster who finished the stronger with 3 tries in the final 20 minutes, taken by Shane Buckley, Alex Wootton and Sean O'Connor.
Ireland 7s player Alex Wootton showed a great turn of pace when breaking from inside the Munster 22 to complete his effort with a well taken score under the posts.
All-in-all it was an entertaining encounter at the Kildare venue with 11 tries in total and a worthwhile exercise with a number of younger players securing valuable game-time against their provincial counterparts.
Greencore Academy lock Sean McCarthy was the main injury concern when he was helped off with a leg injury in the first quarter.
Match highlights to follow.
Munster A: David Johnston; Stephen Fitzgerald (Hogan 46), Dan Goggin, Cian Bohane Capt. (Hodson 48), Alex Wootton; Gearoid Lyons, John Poland (Lloyd 46); Peter McCabe (Poillot 63), Duncan Casey (Buckley 50), Brian Scott (Burke H/T (Phelan 63)); Sean O'Connor, Sean McCarthy (Wycherley 12); Ben Kilkenny (Brown 63), Conor Oliver (Lyons 63), Jordan Coghlan.
Replacements: Shane Buckley, Philip Poillot, JP Phelan, Rory Burke, Fineen Wycherley, Angus Lloyd, Ned Hodson, Colm Hogan, Kelvin Brown, Ollie Lyons.