Scarlets show true grit against Munster
PRO14 REPORT: Ioan Nicholas’ first-half try and some resolute defence reignited Scarlets’ Pro14 campaign as they saw off in-form Munster 10-6 at Parc y Scarlets.
The wing cruised over inside 11 minutes but Munster dominated both possession and territory from there on – however, they could not unlock Scarlets’ incredible defence.
Every time they went wide, Scarlets had numbers and through the middle they held their own in a result which lifts them up to third in an increasingly tight Conference B.
Munster arrived in south Wales boasting a strong record of just one defeat in their last ten Pro14 games and they made a strong start thanks to Bill Johnston’s penalty following a Scarlets scrum collapse.
But the hosts, who have won four of their last five home games against the men from Limerick, hit back spectacularly.
Leigh Halfpenny made a scything break on the counter-attack and produced a superb one-handed offload to Johnny McNicholl, who in-turn set up Nicholas to run for the line.
Munster spent much of the rest of the half camped inside Scarlets territory but the hosts’ defence was resolute and frustrated the visitors – with only a second Johnston penalty to show for their efforts.
Munster, usually so disciplined, made a few costly errors throughout the contest including a penalty against Jean Kleyn for not rolling away.
Scarlets booted the ball inside Munster’s 22 for a line-out and set to work, moving to within five metres of the Munster try line.
Instead of five points, they had to settle for a penalty and Halfpenny calmly slotted the ball through.
But Munster quickly regained their composure and almost hit back with a try. From a line-out, they got the maul rolling and Kleyn dotted down but they try was eventually ruled for obstruction.
However, the pressure did not end there and Arno Botha almost buried over from just a metre, but the ball was held up and eventually turned over.
Munster emptied the bench and flyhalf Tyler Bleyendaal made a positive impact, kicking delightfully to the corner where Ronan O’Mahony was charging for the ball – only for Halfpenny to just get there and smother it down just in time.
With the clock winding down, Munster kept on coming but Scarlets secured one more turnover to confirm the win.
Pens: Johnston 2
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Ioan Nicholas, 13 Kieron Fonotia (captain), 12 Paul Asquith, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Josh Macleod, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 4 Josh Helps, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Tom Price, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Steff Evans.
Munster: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Ronan O’Mahony, 13 Dan Goggin, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Darren Sweetnam, 10 Bill Johnston, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8, Arno Botha, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Fineen Wycherley, 5 Billy Holland (captain), 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Jeremy Loughman.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Liam O’Connor, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Darren O’Shea, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Neil Cronin, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Jaco Taute.
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Ben Whitehouse (Wales), Dave Sutherland (Scotland)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)