Munster A suffered a keenly contested yet agonising defeat to Worcester Warriors in Round 2 of the British & Irish Cup this afternoon, with the host’s snatching victory in the final minute of the game.
It was Warriors who looked the more threatening from the outset, and incisive play from their backline saw the Munster defence scrambling back and coughing up the opening penalty of the game on 3 minutes.
After Tiff Eden sliced the kick wide, Worcester regrouped and were on the attack again. This time the backs were more clinical in their execution and a nice offload from Eden found Ben Sowrey who touched down for the opening try of the game with Eden adding the extras.
The hosts exerted opening superiority not just in the backs, but in the pack as well with former Munster Academy player Darren O’Shea more than playing his part. When Munster found themselves deep in opposition territory for the first time, Warriors drove them back up the field form their own attacking line out.
The Munster-men held their composure though, and some nifty passing saw Niall Keneally crash over the try line on 14 minutes with Rory Scannell making it a full 7 point return and levelling the scores.
With their tails up, Munster went on to steal Warriors next line out and were unlucky not to be in again when Academy flyer Greg O’Shea took the ball at pace and was just bundled into touch.
Possession continued to go back and forth between both sides with Worcester possibly getting a better return from the go forward collisions, and Munster ill-discipline was left off the hook when Eden missed a sitter from straight in front of the posts.
Scannell had the next penalty chance, but the Academy out-half was unable to make it two magical halfway-line kicks in as many weeks when his effort went just wide of the posts.
The Warrior’s pack was next to strike, using the maul to good effect and after the pile of bodies removed themselves from the collapsed maul, Sam Bettey was credited with touching the ball down.
However once again, Munster’s reply was swift. Rory Scannell’s probing kick inside the host’s defence began the lead up to an attacking Munster line out, and just like his try last time out against Moseley, Paddy Butler struck from the set piece, leaping over the Worcester defence to score the province’s second try.
Scannell missed the conversion, but that was soon forgiven when he landed a penalty on 36 minutes to give his side the lead, but not for long.
It was to be Warriors who would enter the dressing room in front after the sin binning of Alan Cotter allowed the boot of Eden to make it 17-15 at the break.
From the restart the hosts retained most of the opening possession and an Eden penalty saw them extend their lead on 49 minutes.
Another clever Scannell dink saw Munster bring play deep inside the Warrior’s 22, and with the put in to the scrum. Eventually going wide from the scrum, Munster A will rue the missed opportunity after Johne Murphy knocked on.
That said, learning from mistakes just committed, the visitors rallied and it was a proud moment for the Scannell family when brothers Niall and Rory combined nicely in the lead up to Munster A’s third try. This time Ronan O’Mahony was on the end of a well worked score for the province with O’Mahony, like Butler, making it two tries in two games.
Not enjoying the best of afternoons in terms of placekicking, Scannell was off target with the conversion, leaving it all square on 20-20 after 57 minutes.
After Scannell and Eden missed another penalty each, it was the Dolphin clubman who eventually broke the 20-20 deadlock with a successful penalty on 76 minutes.
However, in a bid to hold on to possession and close out the game, Munster impeded Eden when chasing loose ball, presenting the hosts with a kickable penalty to force the draw. Not content with sharing the spoils, Warriors went for touch and showed no mercy in the line out, clinically driving the ball over the line with Betty on hand to touch down for his second try of the game,
Eden’s successful conversion was to be the final action of the game and saw the hosts take hard fought victory over Munster A on a scoreline of 27-23.
Mick O’Driscoll’s men now travel to Meadow Lane to face Nottingham in Round 3 of the competition next Friday night, KO 8pm.