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There were no Ronan O’Gara heroics this time but old fashioned Munster might saw the defending champions get back to winning ways in the RaboDirect PRO12 with a 34-17 bonus point victory over Edinburgh.
In a side that had a second string feel to it – Donncha O’Callaghan and Will Chambers were the only two surviving members of the team that lost to arch rivals Leinster last time out in this competition – it was the forwards who ultimately handed Tony McGahan’s men the win.
With no O’Gara to call on and deprived of the likes of Paul O’Connell and Doug Howlett, Munster were pushed all the way by a plucky Gunners side, who arrived in Limerick on the back of three impressive wins, including two in the Heineken Cup.
But on the hour mark, a series of scrums, that saw the visitors repeatedly penalised and lose both props to the sin bin, ensured Munster’s dominant pack opened enough breathing space.
It was Munster who drew first blood but not via the boot of Ian Keatley. He was wayward with a relatively straightforward looking effort on three minutes but the home crowd didn’t have to wait long.
A break from full-back Denis Hurley saw space open up down the left and when he found Danny Barnes near the touchline, the 22-year-old had the simplest of chances to touch down.
Keatley then found his kicking boots for the conversion but back roared Edinburgh and when Jack Gilding intercepted the ball in his own half on 13 minutes, he found Netani Talei, who freed fly-half Phil Godman – who has already missed a simple penalty – to cross and reduce to arrears to two.
Keatley then had three opportunities to add to his side’s lead, two of which he took to give Munster a 13-5 lead at half-time.
The Gunners came out of the blocks the strongest after the break however and wing Tom Brown squeezed over in the left corner before the scrum fiasco ensued and Edinburgh found themselves down to 13 men with Gilding and Kyle Traynor in the bin and 20-10 down after a penalty try was awarded.
With the wind in their sails, Munster quickly added to that and on 66 minutes over went centre Simon Zebo before Keatley again added the extras.
The fire in Edinburgh’s bellies had not yet gone out however and Greig Laidlaw – just three minutes after replacing Godman – grabbed a try and converted to bring the scores to 27-17.
But as the clock wore down, Munster reasserted their authority as wing Luke O’Dea skidded over in the corner to wrap up the bonus point.