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Second Half The Key

February 22, 2011 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Second Half The Key

When Munster went into their dressing room at half time trailing by just three points and with Bristol reduced to 14, you’d have fancied their chances to close the deal in the second half.

There was absolutely no way at that stage you could have seen them on the wrong end of a 27-10 outcome but that's how it turned out and if the final scoreline, garnished by an intercept try, flattered the home side, there can be no quibble about the merit of their victory.

Bristol started impressively and Munster did well to keep their line intact as the home side pressed, off a series of five metre line outs. Fiercely committed defence, a feature of Munster's play all night, denied the home side and once they'd weathered that particular storm Munster dominated for most of the half, played all othe rugby and with just a smidgeon luck might have had two tries.

Declan Cusack gave them the lead with a 7th minute penalty and his superb crossfield kick minutes later almost yielded a try for Scott Deasy.

The Garryowen out-half was wide with a penalty in the 18th minute but once again gave his side good field position with a marvellous touch find from inside his own half that saw the Munster pack go through phase after phase on the Bristol line before conceding the penalty that lifted the siege.

Rare incursions into Munster territory thanks to their sole ploy of the up n under earned two penalties that Ed Barnes converted to give his side a 6-3 lead after 31 minutes of play and right on the stroke of half time Bristol were reduced to 14 when flanker James Merriman was yellow carded.

Bristol started the second half brightly and Barnes had an opportunity to extend the lead but was wide from in front of the posts.

The numerical order was restored for a time when one of Munster's outstanding performers on the night, Paddy Butler was yellow carded but shortly after when Merriman returned to the Bristol pack Munster conceded a penalty try to go ten points down.

It might have been worse from the kick off when Munster failed to deal with a bouncing ball in midfield and Bristol took advantage to send George Watkins haring down the wing, Deasy managing to haul him down metres from the line.

A second penalty try award also heralded a second yellow card, this one for Dave Foley, and yet on the rare occasion they had possession they showed ambition.

However, a promising move was ended by an intercept by Anthony Elliot and another seven pointer, and replacement Paul Rowley's late try, although just reward, didn't offer the remotest consolation.

Referee: Sean Brickell

E Barnes 2 Penalties; 3 Conversions 

A Elliot 1 Try

2 Penalty Tries

D Cusack 1 Penalty; 1 Conversion

P Rowley 1 Try

Jack Tovey, Anthony Elliott, Jack Adams, Junior Fatialofa, George Watkins, Ed Barnes, Richard Bolt, Mark Irish, Ross Johnston, Darren Crompton, Darren Barry, Roy Winters, Iain Grieve capt., James Merriman, Dan Montagu. Replacements: David Blaney for Ross Johnston (75), Jason Hobson for Mark Irish (59), Wayne Thompson for Darren Crompton (63), Mariano Sambucetti for Darren Barry (59), Jamie Miller for Dan Montagu (66), Sam Alford for Richard Bolt (66), Mark Davies for Junior Fatialofa (78).
Scott Deasy, Danny Barnes, Tom Gleeson, Tro Smith, Sean Scanlon, Declan Cusack, Conor Murray, David Kilcoyne, Duncan Casey, Peter Borlase, Billy Holland capt., Dave Foley, Dave O’Callaghan, Brian O’Hara, Paddy Butler. Replacements: Ger Slattery for Duncan Casey (61), Darragh Hurley for David Kilcoyne (50), Brian Hayes for Dave O’Callaghan (80), Kieran Essex for Sean Scanlon (52), Paul Rowley, Corey Hircock for Brian O'Hara (64), Ronan O’Mahoney for Troy Smith (69).