Ian Costello’s Munster A side recorded an 18-14 victory against Aberavon at the Port Talbot Athletic Grounds this afternoon which keeps them in pole position of their British and Irish Cup pool.
Their pool opposition Rotherham recorded a win against Plymouth Albion and Munster now face the defeated side next week in a must win game at Temple Hill if they hope to qualify to the knock out stages of the competition.
It was 20 minutes before the first score came about at the cold and windy Port Talbot venue with JJ Hanrahan stepping up for the penalty after an opening phase of play which saw Munster dominate but were unable to finish off any attacking opportunities.
The resulting restart went in the homeside's favour as they were quick to respond with their own well struck penalty chance.
During the first half Munster suffered with issues at the lineout. Yet it was the same set-piece that provided the platform for Munster's opening try when Cathal Sheridan cleared the ball out to the backline and Danny Barnes broke the Aberavon defence to give Ronan O'Mahony the space to cross the line. Hanrahan added the conversion to give a 3-10 scoreline.
Aberavon missed a penalty chance to narrow the gap just before the break.
A rejuvenated pack returned with Sean Dougall leading by example in his captaincy role with an impressive work ethic and CJ Stander was quick to follow suit in the opening quarter of the second half. There were a number of dynamic carries with the pack keeping the ball in tight and they were rewarded with a penalty chance in the opening minutes and Hanrahan cleared it.
The improved forward play was also evident come lineout time and with Munster claiming the momentum it was Danny Barnes who picked up a great line to run off JJ and he scored Munster's second try.
That was Munster's final score of the afternoon as they found themselves on the back-foot going into the final quarter.
Aberavon stepped up their intensity at the breakdown and were awarded a number of 5 metre scrums and lineouts before Stander was binned for bringing down a maul. With the numbers advantage their forwards went on the attack again and moved the ball wide to touch down in the corner,
A frustrated Munster found themselves on the wrong side of the referee's whistle with two successive penalties awarded to the home-side within 5 minutes.
With the momentum in Aberavon's favour, the Welsh side continued to apply the pressure and it took all of Munster's determination and resolve to weather the attack. Of note fullback Denis Hurley fronted up in defence and at times played like a loose forward before the game closed out and Munster did enough to claim the spoils.
Munster A: D Hurley; D Barnes, S Deasy, I Dineen, R O'Mahony; JJ Hanrahan (J Holland 78), C Sheridan; J Cronin, D Casey (N Scannell 60), A Cotter (C Condon 55); D Foley (B Hayes 60) , I Nagle; Dave O'Callaghan (R Murphy 70), S Dougall, CJ Stander. Replacements: N Scannell, C Condon, B Hayes, R Murphy, B Haugh, J Holland, D Sweetnam.
Aberavon: Paul Bamsey; Richard Carter, Richard Thomas, Will Price, Ricky Thomas; Craig Evans, Joe Heatley; Neil White, Gareth Harvey, Andrew Clatworthy, Gavin Ronan, Sam Williams (capt), Ben Thomas, Nathan Strong, Chris Davies. Replacements: Nathan Jones, Jamie Davies, Joe Tomalin-Reeves, Evan Yardley, Lee Purnell, Rowan Jenkins, Richard Morris.