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Munster edge Edinburgh to go top

REPORT: A brace of tries by Antoine Frisch helped Munster climb to the top of the United Rugby Championship table as they held on for a 29-26 win at Edinburgh.

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The URC champs outscored Sean Everitt’s side four tries to two in a dramatic encounter in Scotland.

While the result sees Munster move to the summit of the table and ensures them a top-four finish, handing them a home quarterfinal spot, it is a huge blow for Edinburgh’s play-offs hopes.

The side from the Scottish capital may now require a win away to Benetton in the last match of the regulation campaign if they are to secure a top-eight finish.

After a spell of Munster pressure in the opening couple of minutes, Edinburgh soon seized the upper hand, with Ben Healy kicking a couple of penalties against his former club in the fifth and 12th minutes to open up a six-point lead for the hosts.

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The visitors got up and running in the 18th minute when Antoine Frisch kicked over the top and then beat Duhan van der Merwe to the bouncing ball himself before slamming it down over the line. Jack Crowley was off target with his conversion attempt.

Another Healy penalty gave Edinburgh a four-point cushion in the 23rd minute before centre Mark Bennett stretched their lead further when he bundled his way over for a scrappy try after the ball bobbled around in front of Munster’s line, with Healy converting.

Munster reduced their arrears in the 36th minute when Frisch bolted over from close range after the ball was moved swiftly into his path following a scrum, with Crowley converting.

The visitors continued in the ascendancy after the break and got their noses in front for the first time in the 43rd minute when Crowley found a gap and eased his way through after being played in by Rory Scannell. The stand-off duly converted his own try, before another Healy penalty brought Edinburgh level.

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Munster went ahead once more with their fourth try of the evening when Gavin Coombes pushed over in the 54th minute, with Crowley adding the extras.

Visiting replacement Conor Murray was sin-binned for conceding a cynical penalty in front of the posts in the 63rd minute and Edinburgh soon capitalised on the extra-man advantage as Boan Venter was awarded a try after a lengthy TMO check to prove he had grounded the ball over the line.

Healy converted to level the match up once more.

But a Crowley penalty in the 70th minute proved decisive in a thrilling encounter.

Player of the Match: Jack Crowley pulled the strings to impressive effect for Munster. The stand-off brought some composure amid a frantic encounter, and his sound decision-making and impressive kicking were key to his side’s narrow victory. He was also on hand to chip in with a try when he found a gap in the Edinburgh defence and burst through it.

Play of the Match: Trailing 16-5 as the end of the first half approached, the game was in danger of slipping away from Munster. An impressively worked try in the 36th minute, however, proved pivotal. Following a scrum just in front of the line, the Irish side worked the ball quickly and clinically through hands to tee up Antoine Frisch, who darted through a gap from close range to land his second try of the evening.

 

The scorers:

For Edinburgh:
Tries: Bennett, Venter
Cons: Healy 2
Pens: Healy 4

For Munster:
Tries: Frisch 2, Crowley, Coombes
Cons: Crowley 3

Yellow card: Connor Murray (Munster, 62 – cynical foul)

Teams: 

Edinburgh: 15 Wes Goosen, 14 Matt Currie, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 James Lang, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ewan Ashman, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Dave Cherry, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Marshall Sykes, 20 Luke Crosbie, 21 Ali Price, 22 Cammy Scott, 23 Chris Dean

Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Antoine Frisch, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Shane Daly, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Gavin Coombes, 7 Alex Kendellen, 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Tadhg Beirne (captain), 4 Fineen Wycherley, 3 Oli Jager, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Jeremy Loughman
Replacements: 16 Eoghan Clarke, 17 Mark Donnelly, 18 John Ryan, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Tom Ahern, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Rory Scannell, 23 Brian Gleeson

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Ru Campbell (Scotland) and Finlay Brown (Scotland)
TMO: Stu Terheege (England)

*Additional source: URC 

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