Munster A have secured a home quarter final in the British and Irish Cup with a 24-16 win over Doncaster Knights at Bandon RFC this evening.
A scrappy affair in the early exchanges, early scores came by the way of penalties with Rotherham leading 6-3 before Munster found their rhythm and crossed for two unanswered tries through Stephen Fitzgerald and Cian Bohane before the interval.
The game was again error strewn in cold and slippery conditions upon the resumption and another Doncaster penalty on 52 minutes made it a tense second half for the hosts before John Poland eventually made sure of victory with their third try on the 79th minute. Munster were also helped by the accuracy of Te Aihe Toma who maintained his 100% kicking record off the tee.
A scrum penalty for Doncaster got them up and running on 10 minutes, winger Dougie Flockhart converting, but the boot of Toma had Munster back on level terms just a few minutes later when the visitors failed to roll away.
Munster had their chances in the opening 20, good tactical kicking placing them well within range of the Doncaster tryline but a number of knocks on at crucial stages meant they saw little return for their efforts on the scoreboard.
Instead, the Championship outfit pushed ahead again through the boot of Flockhart before Munster began to make their territorial advantage count.
Gaining dominance upfront and particularly through a scrum that boasted experienced heads like Stephen Archer, Darren O’Shea and Dave O’Callaghan in its arsenal, the men in red had the perfect platform off of which to attack, and when Munster made their passes stick at close range they netted two pivotal scores.
The first came down the left wing where, on the end of crisp hands, Stephen Fitzgerald did well to duck under the defence and touch down with Toma adding a superb touchline conversion.
Another knock on looked to have spurned another gifted chance before Knights infringed on their exit. Munster pounced and found themselves held up over the line. After a number of resets with the Doncaster tight-eight under all sorts of pressure, well presented ball allowed Poland find captain Bohane coming at pace and the centre was in for his second try in as many games. Toma kicked the easy extras and Munster led 17-10 at the break.
It was game on again on when Flockhart drew first blood in the second half with his third penalty. But from there, Doncaster failed to kick on as the Munstermen kept them largely pinged on half way or in their own 22. Knock-ons and scrum resets were again the order of the day.
Not until the dying minutes of the game did Munster eventually make that second half possession count, scrum half Poland crossing for his first try of the tournament after some excellent work from Munster through the phases. Toma knocked over the extras.
As he had done last week, Sam Edgerley gave the final say to the visitors with a try at the death but Munster were deserved winners in front of a strong crowd of 937 in Bandon.
Munster A will now progress to the knock out stages for their first time since 2014 and will play their home quarter final on the weekend of March 10/11/12. A finalised date, kick off time and venue will be confirmed in due course.