Gloucester recorded a 45-8 victory against Munster today scoring six tries at the Kingsholm Stadium.
It was a day for new combinations, a new coaching ticket, a new kit and debuts for eleven of Munster's young guns. While a strong Gloucester side lined out, with household names including John Afoa, Greg Laidlaw, Billy Twelvetrees and Richard Hibbard to name a few, all eager to impress in front of their 12,719 home support.
Despite being a new and experimental side Munster were not far off the mark at the interval, with a stacked penalty count against them and a man in the bin the Anthony Foley coached side only trailed by 10-points to a superior Gloucester outfit at half-time.
But with little possession and a straining defensive effort the Cherry and Whites took advantage and opened Munster up in the second forty, crossing the whitewash on five occasions.
The Gloucester pack secured the opening score after they were awarded a penalty try by referee Greg Garner after six minutes of play and out-half James Hook added the extras. The home-side were dominant in the set-piece and were awarded a free kick, opting to reset on two further occasions before Garner halted proceedings in favour of the hosts.
Hook added a penalty six minutes later to extend the lead and thankfully Munster were able to stay within reach when Gloucester were unable to complete a number of attacking phases, let down by their final pass. They also crossed the line for two try opportunities but Johnny May’s attempt was pulled back for a forward pass from scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, while Ben Morgan was unable to control the ball on grounding.
Ivan Dineen was yellow carded for a tackle on James Hook before the break, in what look liked a harsh decision, but with an 8-3 penalty count against us and little possession we were always on the back-foot.
Johnny Holland kicked Munster’s first points at the start of the second half but with the immediate reply from James Hook Gloucester quickly restored their 10-point advantage. Minutes later the Welsh out-half added his third penalty before the Cherry & Whites advanced to full-attack mode ably led by the centre partnership of Henry Trinder and captain Billy Twelvetrees.
The International centre was first to cross the whitewash after 50 minutes, with Hook adding the kick, before the driving maul set up number 7 Matt Kvesic for the next two, and then replacement Elliott Stoope completed Gloucester’s scoring sequence when he claimed the last two tries. Billy Burns took over kicking duties and added one conversion.
There was little consolation for Munster when Cian Bohane added a late try in the 79th minute after John Ryan and Niall Horan found space and some final attacking momentum.
Commenting after his first game as Head Coach, Anthony Foley had the following to say "We showed a lot of enthusiasm and a solid work-rate, but we lacked accuracy and we couldn’t keep possession of the ball.
"It was a big learning exercise for our young lads out there today and I thought they acquitted themselves quite well physically. We need to learn how to control the game and how to maintain possession of the ball, and build pressure in the opposition’s territory, so we have areas to work on!"
Referee: Greg Garner
Munster: Stephen Fitzgerald (Greg O’Shea 68); Ronan O'Mahony, Cian Bohane, Ivan Dineen (Rory Scannell 56), Darren Sweetnam (Greg O’Shea 77); Johnny Holland (David Johnston 63), Duncan Williams (Cathal Sheridan H/T (Ryan Foley 77)); Alan Cotter (John Ryan H/T), Ger Slattery (Kevin O’Byrne H/T), BJ Botha (Niall Horan 66); Donncha O'Callaghan Capt., Sean McCarthy; Shane Buckley, Barry O'Mahony (Ryan Murphy 63), CJ Stander (John Madigan 56).