Heineken Cup : Munster 19 – Scarlets 13

Munster did it to us again, for the fourth game in a row.  Dragging us to the very brink before finally dogging out a win.  I told you that my friend, Wrinkly Joe, has been told by his doctor to stay on the cigarettes, the saturated fats and the booze but give up Munster rugby because it’s bad for his heart.  Now, I’m inclined to believe that the doctors in Munster should come together and issue a blanket warning to their patients.  Watch this stuff at your peril.

We all thought there would be a backlash after last week’s victory in Llanelli.  Scarlets would want to return the compliment.

And so, as the Geek and I trudged out to Thomond Park on a sharp, sunny forenoon, it was in hope rather than confidence.  Avalon beckoned.  An almost Arthurian mist hung over Limerick as if to make our Welsh visitors feel at home, and perhaps to lull them, but these are knights, not knaves, and they came well prepared for the joust.

Munster fought a rearguard action for much of the game, with neither side helped by referee Dave Pearson who inexplicably forgot to visit Specsavers, judging by the number of infringements he overlooked.  At times, it looked like Scarlets were playing American football, not rugby, if you judged it by the amount of interference running they did without a peep from Pearson’s whistle, but of course, he also overlooked one or two forwardish passes from Munster, so I suppose we can hardly complain.   That’s the professional game: played on the edge of the laws.

Anyway, as usual, they pulled it out of the fire, although I though Scarlets looked more dangerous for most of the game and probably deserved a bit more than their losing bonus point, which could well turn out to be a very important point indeed.

On the positive side, Murray had a great game and so did Zebo  apart from a couple of decidedly dodgy kicks.  Hurley stayed cool under the high ball.  Earls looked efffective but Mafi, I’m afraid, had a howler.  Twice he fluffed gold-plated chances to run for the line, and when he got possession, he seemed unsure what to do with it.

O Gara, as usual, kept his head, and Munster in the game when Scarlets threatened to overrun us, and of course, as normal, Paul O Connell provided the leadership required.

I was never much good with the permutations of league tables but Munster are now in pole position, facing games against Northampton and Castres.  The Saints demolished a demotivated Catres yesterday, 45-0, but will be playing for pride against Munster.

Some work still to be done, but it’s not a bad way to end the year.



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