Munster take maximum points from pulsating Edinburgh encounter

munster take maximum points from pulsating edinburgh encounter

Craig Casey congratulates try-scorer Gavin Coombes.

Munster 29

Bryn Palmer reports from the Hive Stadium

MUNSTER MAINTAINED THEIR impressive late-season surge after emerging from a pulsating encounter in Edinburgh with maximum points — and an eighth successive URC victory — to move top of the table – for 24 hours at least.

With Glasgow away at Lions and Leinster at Ulster on Saturday, any slip-up by the two sides leading for most of the season could hand the defending champions a chance to clinch a top-two finish when they conclude the regular season against Ulster on 1 June.

Jack Crowley’s penalty with 10 minutes left secured a fifth successive away league win, a brace of tries from Antoine Frisch and further scores from Crowley and Gavin Coombes securing the bonus point.

Edinburgh might have claimed a draw with a late penalty but opted to go for the corner rather than at goal and botched the lineout, leaving their own play-off hopes in the balance.

The hosts led 6-0 early on via two penalties from former Munster out-half Ben Healy and a thumping hit from James Lang denied number eight Gavin Coombes a score in the left corner before Munster struck.

Alex Nankivell’s superb floated pass found centre partner Frisch on the right flank, who collected his own chip ahead and forced his way in at the corner.

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Healy’s third penalty made it 9-5 and Edinburgh went further clear after Munster failed to deal with Bennett’s grubber and the centre was quickest to the loose ball to dot down, Healy adding the extras.

But the men in red continued to threaten and after Alex Kendellen was held up, Munster tapped a penalty and Frisch smashed over from close range, Crowley’s conversion cutting their interval deficit to 16-12.

The visitors hit the front early on the resumption with a set move direct from a scrum, Crowley looping round replacement Rory Scannell — on for Mike Haley, who failed a HIA — to cross at the posts before converting.

Healy levelled things up with his third penalty but Munster regained the lead in controversial fashion.

RG Snyman’s late hit on Healy appeared to spell trouble but after a TMO review, Bill Mata’s retaliation on Snyman was deemed a greater offence. Munster tapped the penalty and Coombes ploughed over from close in.

A brilliant last-ditch tackle by Crowley denied the lively Bennett a second try, but replacement Conor Murray – on for the stricken Nankivell – was sin-binned for killing the ball.

Edinburgh hammered away and after Mata was held up, prop Boan Venter dived for a try awarded after a lengthy TMO review, Healy’s conversion levelling matters at 26-26.

But Player of the Match Crowley had the last word and despite a few late scares, Munster’s bandwagon keeps rolling.

Scorers for Edinburgh: Tries: Bennett, Venter. Cons: Healy 2/2. Pens: Healy 4/4.

Scorers for Munster: Tries: Frisch 2, Crowley, Coombes. Cons: Crowley 3/4. Pens: Crowley 1/1.

Edinburgh: Goosen (Scott 58); Currie, Bennett (Dean 63), Lang, Van der Merwe; Healy, Vellacott (Price 62); Schoeman (Venter 58), Ashman (Cherry 58), Nel (Sebastian 58), Skinner (Sykes 58), Gilchrist, Ritchie, Watson (Crosbie 62), Mata.

Not used: Dean.

Munster: Haley; Nash, Frisch, Nankivell (Murray 58), Daly; Crowley, Casey; Loughman (Donnelly **), N Scannell (Clarke 65), Jager (Ryan 50), Wycherley (Snyman 44), Beirne, O’Donoghue, Kendellen (Ahern 50), Coombes (Gleeson 71).

Not used: Donnelly.

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)

Att: 7,774

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