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Ian Keatley proved a more than adequate replacement for the absent Ronan O’Gara, kicking 20 points as Munster produced a clinical display against an ill-disciplined Edinburgh, winning 30-3.
The young fly-half, who was part of Ireland’s training squad ahead of the 2013 Six Nations, added to his growing reputation with a clinical kicking display to inflict an eighth straight defeat on Edinburgh.
The Scottish region missed the chance to go ahead in the tenth minute as Piers Francis missed his first penalty but just three minutes later tighthead BJ Botha was sent to the bin following a series of infringements allowing Francis another shot at goal and this time he made no mistake.
Losing the South African, who notoriously boasts a huge presence amongst Munster’s forwards, could have proved costly, but another scrum infringement on 20 minutes, this time from Edinburgh prop WP Nel, gave Munster the chance to draw level and Keatley made no mistake.
It was perhaps crucial for the Irish province to score points while their key man was in the bin and upon his return in the 23rd minute, Botha’s influence forced Edinburgh’s front row to concede a second successive penalty but this time Keatley’s effort sailed wide.
Four minutes later however, illegal blocking from Edinburgh scrum-half Richie Rees gave Keatley a chance for immediate redemption and he duly obliged to give Munster a 6-3 lead.
Edinburgh however had the majority of territory and possession in the final ten minutes of the half but failed to capitalise on a perfect attacking position 20 metres out courtesy of great counter-rucking from the Munster forwards.
Munster looked to pick up the pace after the break and almost scored the game’s first try when JJ Hanrahan put a well-placed kick through for Danny Barnes to latch onto but Dougie Fife showed great pace to cover well and smother the ball.
Nel was having a hard time of it in the scrum and conceded another penalty in the 48th minute which Keatley dispatched amidst worsening conditions in Cork to extend the lead to 9-3.
A high tackle from Rees gifted Munster another chance from straight in front and Keatley bagged his fourth penalty to give his side a nine-point cushion after 54 minutes.
And that trended continued two minutes later when Edinburgh were guilty of not rolling away and Keatley, who boasted a 90 percent kicking conversion rate coming into the game, delivered another three points.
Fife once again had to track back and prevent Hanrahan from reaching his own kick but nothing could stop Keatley who, in the 63rd minute, kicked his and Munster’s sixth penalty.
A poor kick from Edinburgh then allowed Ivan Dineen to break down the right-hand side and produce a great kick for CJ Stander to latch onto and score under the posts on his return from a broken hand.
The extras were unsurprisingly added by Keatley giving the hosts a commanding 25-3 lead before Mike Sherry was on hand to score his side’s second try of the evening after evading the challenge of Chris Leck.
Keatley however missed from out wide as the game as the game ended 30-3, giving Munster their sixth home win of the season.