Hooker Niall Scannell paid tribute to the rest of the Munster pack after they secured a historic 27-14 success over the Maori All Blacks on Friday night.
Less than a week on from Ireland’s victory over the All Blacks in Chicago, Scannell had given Munster, playing individuals own school or club socks, an early lead before two quick tries for the visitors.
But after a penalty try on the half-hour mark set Munster on their way, Darren Sweetnam and Ronan O’Mahony crossed either side of the break.
And Scannell was proud to see his fellow forwards dominate the set-piece against a strong Maori pack and send a signal to the rest of the Guinness PRO12.
“We knew it was going to be tough, these guys are top level players most are internationals. It was an unbelievable fixture to play in,” he said.
“Credit to Darren O’Shea he’s been leading the lineout the last few weeks and the pressure we put on them was all down to him and his organisation I think he deserves huge credit.
“Stephen Archer in the scrum tonight was unbelievable, Peter McCabe when he came on, he hasn’t had a lot of game time recently, and you wouldn’t have known he was absolutely incredible as well.
“If you look at the youth we have coming through and the lads can put up with competitors like that it’s just great for Munster Rugby.”
There was another fitting tribute to the late Anthony Foley ahead of the match as the Maori laid a jersey with the initials AF on the Thomond Park turf ahead of their haka.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) November 12, 2016
And it was Scannell, at the back of the driving maul, who forced his way over the line after 13 minutes.
The Maori fought back with two tries of their own through James Lowe and Ambrose Curtis to lead 14-5 after 27 minutes.
A Munster penalty try and a yellow card for Reed Prinsep saw the Irish side back in the game while Sweetnam’s pace saw him reach his own kick through to give Munster the half-time lead 17-14.
Duncan Williams saw yellow for a high tackle but the scrum-half was provider for O’Mahony on his return with a perfectly waited box kick which the winger raced onto for the fourth try.
“The noise out there and the buzz, from minute one, even when we were 14 points down there was such cool heads everyone knew we could come back,” said O’Mahony.
“The crowd was insane, unbelievable especially in these conditions, I think everyone bought in our defence was outstanding everyone put their bodies on the line.
“The last time I faced it (the haka) was under-20s it’s an unbelievable experience and they showed unbelievable respect with the jersey they laid down for Anthony Foley.”
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