Munster do enough against Scarlets
PRO14 REPORT: Munster recovered from a slow start to beat Scarlets at Thomond Park and keep them well on course for a Pro14 Finals Series berth.
Scarlets started the stronger of the two sides, with scrum-alf Aled Davies scoring early on, but they couldn’t make their early dominance pay and Munster hit back through James Hart.
After the break, Munster were the better side and man-of-the-match Robin Copeland finished off a good period of play from a line-out, with Alex Wootton securing the win with only a few minutes remaining.
Scarlets made a blistering start to the game, running with the ball in hand at every opportunity and testing the Munster defence.
The Welsh side took the lead after just seven minutes, as Tom Williams burst through the Munster backline and picked out James Davies on his left, who found A Davies in support to fling himself over the whitewash.
Scarlets continued to press as Munster struggled to settle into the game, but the home side thought they had drawn level when Wootton intercepted inside his 22 to score.
However, the TMO adjudged that Wootton had knocked on as the ball struck his bicep in the build up to the try.
Scarlets continued to dominate the territory, punishing Munster for not kicking into the stands, taking quick line-out after quick line-out to run at the defence.
When Munster did find some territory of their own, they immediately looked threatening, with the forward pack muscling over the Scarlets try line only for the ball to be held up.
Moments later, on 27 minutes, Munster did score, with Hart forcing his way over the line, despite the best efforts of three Scarlets defenders.
The first half's dominant side, Scarlets, sought to extend their lead before the interval, but Patchell could only strike the post with a penalty, making it 7-5 to the away side at half-time.
Munster improved after the interval and on 47 minutes they took the lead through Copeland.
Four phases of quick ball following a five-metre line-out pushed the Scarlets defence back and the No.8 picked the ball up to drive over the line.
Scarlets flank J Davies was lucky to avoid a yellow card after a trip on Sammy Arnold as the Munster centre kicked through.
Munster then felt aggrieved to not have a third try when James Cronin burst over the try line, but the referee deemed that he was guilty of making a double movement.
The crowd grew restless and Scarlets fought to reduce the five-point deficit, with Steff Evans going close a few minutes later, dancing down the wing but unable to latch onto his kick forward.
With the game still in the balance JJ Hanrahan broke clear and set Munster off in the Scarlets 22.
After more than 12 phases of play, substitute Dan Goggin sprayed a long, looping pass out wide, over the Scarlets defenders and into the arms of Wootton, who was able to evade Tom Varndell to score and secure the win.
Tries: Hart, Copeland, Wootton
Cons: Keatley 2
Munster: 15 JJ Hanrahan, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Sammy Arnold, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 James Hart, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Billy Holland (captain), 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 James Cronin, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Gerbrandt Grobler, 20 Dave O’Callaghan, 21 Jack Stafford, 22 Stephen Fitzgerald, 23 Dan Goggin.
Scarlets: 15 Tom Williams, 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Scott Williams (captain), 12 Paul Asquith, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Will Boyde, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Dylan Evans.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Phil Price, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 Josh Macleod, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Steff Hughes.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Andrea Piardi, Manuel Bottino (Italy)
TMO: Matteo Liperini (Italy)