Munster finally have their 'Bok' scalp
MATCH REPORT: Munster ended a 50-year wait to get their first win over a South African representative team.
The Irish province beat SA ‘A’ 28-14 in foul weather conditions in Cork on Thursday, adding this to the famous scalps of the Wallabies and All Blacks.
It was a win for a cohesive and motivated home team over the lacklustre, haphazard visitors.
The post-match celebrations showed just how much this first-ever ‘Bok’ scalp meant to the Munstermen.
* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
The hosts led 21-7 at the break and scored a fourth try early in the second half for a 28-7 score line, but the men in Green and Gold fought back for a consolation score midway through the second half.
It is clear that more time together on the training field will benefit the side in the next week when they face English Premiership side, Bristol Bears.
The first half started like a bang for the home side.
Wing Shane Daly scored in the opening minutes when a slick Munster backline move proved too quick for the visiting backs to align to the decoy running of the home side.
The SA ‘A’-side’s midfield got cramped up and Daly had and easy run in from the space created by his inside backs.
Flyhalf Ben Healy, who just made the decisive pass to his wing, kicked a beauty from the corner and in a blink, Munster were 7-0 up.
It took the South Africans 10 minutes to finally fire a shot and it came via a couple of powerful scrums, which proved their best weapon of the match.
Fullback Aphelele Fassi kicked cleverly, forcing Munster to carry the ball over their own line, and then it was game on for the visitors. From there, a couple of dominant scrums by the SA ‘A’ side resulted in two consecutive scrum penalties.
Team captain Thomas du Toit opted for scrums every time and from the second of those, it was Fassi who went over in the right corner, with a good pass by Johan Goosen giving the fullback the space needed to score.
Goosen converted from a tight angle and the scores were even, 7-all, after 14 minutes.
The visiting scrum clearly had the upper hand early on, but the home side proved more cohesive in attack and general play during the next 20 minutes, which also saw the rain came down in Cork.
The lack of defensive coordination in the SA ‘A’ backline was again exposed soon after though. A Munster attack to the left, with some good decoy running, found the SA defence wanting and experienced wing Simon Zebo scored in the corner. Healy kicked a peach and suddenly the Irish were up 14-7 and gaining momentum in the game.
Ten minutes later, just before half-time, two big plays occurred.
First, Munster had a very kickable opportunity to posts two minutes from time, but they opted for a line-out. That proved to be a great decision as they managed to get their maul going and the Munster pack drove over the line with Diarmuid Barron in possession.
Healy converted for a 21-7 lead and although the SA ‘A’ side had a scoring opportunity from the restart and actually twice opted for attacking line-outs, they lost the ball in a maul and it was a fine opportunity lost.
Munster started the second half with the same swagger.
Healy stabbed through a grubber and fullback Mike Haley managed to get to it first and dotted down, with the confirmation from the TMO. Healy kicked the conversion and the lead grew to an alarming 28-7.
A couple of changes to the SA ‘A’ side saw Grant Williams coming off the bench and he immediately added some spark to the attack.
The next 15 minutes were all green and gold and Suleiman Hartzenberg was worked over in the corner 55 minutes in, but the Stormers wing was ruled to have a foot in touch.
Two minutes later, Sikhumbuzo Notshe was ruled to have dotted down just short of the line and from the resulting scrum, Munster were given a yellow card for repeated infringements.
True to the core, Du Toit opted for yet another scrum, this time five metres out and against 14 men.
The call proved to be a good one as Notshe’s pick-and-go was decisive. Gianni Lombard, on for Goosen, converted to cut the lead to 14 points with just under 20 minutes to play.
The last 10 were frustrating for the visitors as they just could not get the next score needed to buckle Munster, but credit to the home side who managed to hang on against a SA ‘A’ side that showed a real hunger for the win, but sadly not the skill to do so.
Tries: Daly, Zebo, Barron, Haley
Cons: Healy 4
For South Africa ‘A’
Tries: Fassi, Notshe
Cons: Goosen, Lombard
Yellow card: Liam O’Connor (Munster, 61 – repeated infringement, illegal scrumming)
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Shane Daly, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Paddy Patterson, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 John Hodnett, 6 Jack O’Donoghue (captain), 5 Kiran McDonald, 4 Edwin Edogbo, 3 Roman Salanoa, 2 Diarmuid Barron, 1 Josh Wycherley.
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Liam O’Connor, 18 Keynan Knox, 19 Cian Hurley, 20 Alex Kendellen, 21 Neil Cronin, 22 Patrick Campbell, 23 Malakai Fekitoa.
South Africa ‘A’: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Jean-Luc du Preez, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Phendulani Buthelezi, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Thomas du Toit (captain), 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Dan du Preez, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Sanele Nohamba, 23 Gianni Lombard.
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White, Ben Blain
TMO: Rowan Kitt
* Picture credit: @Munsterrugby
* Additional reporting by @Springboks