Despite an excellent start that saw Munster A bag the opening try of the game, London Welsh ultimately made their greater experience and physicality tell in defeating Peter Malone’s charges 15-30 in the opening round of the British and Irish Cup at Midleton RFC this afternoon.
A shower of rain in the opening minutes made for somewhat slippery conditions from the off but that did not stop Munster A from executing some excellent interplay for the game’s opening try. Promoted to the starting line-up after the late withdrawal of Tomás O’Leary, Abrie Griesel threw a wonderful reverse pass to the oncoming John Madigan who ran a beautiful line to hit the space and bring Munster well inside the 22. The second row found John Foley before he was brought to ground and the academy flanker was in for the province’s first try on 6 minutes.
Steve Crosbie added the easy extras.
Acquitting themselves admirably early on against this highly rated Championship side, the Munster pack did well in defending the London Welsh maul, also forcing penalties in the game’s opening two scrums.
However, somewhat against the run of play it was the visitors who struck next, spreading it wide and creating an overlap down the right wing where fullback Chris Elder stepped inside the Munster defence for Welsh’s opening try.
With Joe Carlisle pushing the extras to the left, Munster still led and their reply was instant through the boot of Crosbie who added a penalty on 17 minutes.
However from there the visitors began to hit their stride, starving Munster of possession and winning back the battle at set piece. In the first instance, an excellent cross-field kick for Robbie Narin saw the winger cross before Welsh’s maul worked up a head a steam that drove them to the line, soon after which Ben Pienaar crossed for their third.
Carlisle converted the latter as well as adding a penalty – Munster holding on in front of the posts – and the visitors led 20-10 at the interval.
London Welsh continued to apply serious pressure upon the resumption, winning the early penalties of the half, turning over Munster on their own lineout and neutralising the Munster maul when they did manage to get it going.
Regaining parity at scrum time, Munster did force a penalty but Crosbie sent his effort to the right and Welsh maintained their ten point advantage.
The deficit was eventually cut to five on 54 minutes when Munster attacked with purpose. A cut out pass from Crosbie found Sean O’Connor who made excellent headway on the right wing from where Munster went through a couple of phases before going wide and finding Colm Hogan on the right wing for Munster’s second.
With Crosbie unable to slot the extras, London Welsh soon relieved the pressure of the Munster advance in crossing for their bonus point try, backs and forwards alike using the maul to drive over the line on 63 minutes – none other than fullback Elder crossing for his second with Carlisle slotting the conversion.
Try as Munster might, the more experienced Championship outfit had the measure of their hosts, winning the battle at set piece and forcing knocks-ons from Munster as they chased the game in the dying minutes.
A penalty from replacement kicker Glyn Hughes sealed the deal for London Welsh on 78 minutes, the visitors full value for their 15-30 win at Midleton RFC.
Munster A now travel to face Doncaster next Saturday at 2.30pm.