Munster punish 14-man Scarlets
MATCH REPORT: Munster’s Gavin Coombes stepped off the bench to grab a late double that helped his side secure a 29-10 over Scarlets at the top of Conference B.
Scarlets had hopes of catching Munster themselves but lost Sam Lousi to an early red card, with Jack O’Sullivan and Billy Holland both then crossing before Coombes sealed the bonus.
Scarlets lost hooker Taylor Davies to an early injury and missed a Dan Jones penalty, the fly-half soon making amends to open the scoring.
Munster half-backs JJ Hanrahan and Craig Casey started to exert their control on the game, dominating possession and territory in the most and trying to switch play with regularity.
The hosts were eventually rewarded with a penalty, which Hanrahan despatched for 3-3, the visitors pinned down in their own half amid the swirling wind.
As the pressure mounted Scarlets’ Lousi saw red for a punch and Munster were soon over the line, a series of forward drives for the line seeing O’Sullivan under the posts.
Leading 10-3 at the interval Munster set about extending the lead in the second half, often playing for territory and then getting a second as Holland peeled away down the blindside.
Scarlets though refused to feel sorry for themselves and redoubled their efforts, forcing play down to the other end of the pitch.
Their telling moment of play came after a spell of pressure, replacement prop Javan Sebastian using all of his grunt to power over from short range.
Hopes of a comeback were quelled though minutes later as Tevita Ratuva saw yellow for a dangerous tackle – replacement Coombes then on to scramble over the line.
Hanrahan kicked a fine conversion and the home side set about sealing the all-important fourth – finally coming deep into the red as Coombes kept his cool once more.
Player of the Match – Kevin O’Byrne
Munster hooker Kevin O’Byrne gets the gong this week for a typically industrious display all round the park.
O’Byrne held his nerve throwing in tricky conditions and showed several excellent touches around the pitch.
Tries: O’Sullivan, Holland, Coombes 2
Cons: Hanrahan 3
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Dan Goggin, 11 Darren Sweetnam, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Jack O’Sullivan, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Arno Botha, 5 Billy Holland (captain), 4 Fineen Wycherley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Kevin O’Byrne, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Jeremy Loughman, 18 John Ryan, 19 Gavin Coombes, 20 John Hodnett, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Rory Scannell, 23 Tommy O’Donnell
Scarlets: 15 Angus O’Brien, 14 Corey Baldwin, 13 Paul Asquith, 12 Steff Hughes (captain), 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones 9, Jonathan Evans, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Werner Kruger (c), 2 Taylor Davies, 1 Phil Price
Replacements: 16 Ifa Phillips, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Tevita Ratuva, 20 Steve Cummins, 21 Dan Davis, 22 Dane Blacker, 23 Ryan Conbeer
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Seán Gallagher (Ireland), Keith Allen (Scotland)
TMO: Neil Paterson (Scotland)