Category: Archive

Munster maul Neath

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Munster 37
Neath 17
Most, if not all, of the frustration of previous defeats was eased Saturday by an impressive Celtic League triumph over Welsh side Neath in Cardiff. Admittedly, Neath were out of their depth against a side with as much experience as Munster, but the manner in which they were beaten was highly impressive.
With their management stressing the need for a professional performance and no mistakes in the early stages of the game, the Munster players duly delivered. Not even the loss of playmaker Ronan O’Gara — stomped on by Neath’s Brett Sinkinson — after 25 minutes could upset their rhythm. Jason Holland moved to out-half and Rob Henderson came off the bench to inflict even more pain on the losers.
Ahead by 22-9 at the interval thanks to a try by Alan Quinlan and some accurate goalkicking by O’Gara before his departure, Munster killed off the game early in the second half with a second try, this time by prop Marcus Horan. “Munster were physically and mentally prepared for the game and we are some off that,” said Neath’s coach, Lyn Jones. “They deserved to win and they perhaps now deserve to go on and win the European Cup.”
While there were celebrations when Henderson — back at last following a broken arm — ran through some pathetic Neath tackling for a third try, the pervasive feeling in the Munster ranks was one of relief.
“Losing had become a friend you don’t want,” said Anthony Foley, one of six players who had played in all three previous finals. “We’ve had it for the last three years. The fear of losing was there again and it really drove us on.”
If Munster relied on a superb collective effort once again, Quinlan was outstanding throughout, while full-back Jeremy Staunton had his best game in a red jersey. Appropriately, veteran Mick Galwey was brought on as a substitute late in the game and, given his contribution to the cause down the years, he received the trophy along with captain Jim Williams.
Staunton took over the kicking duties after O’Gara’s injury and added two conversions and two penalties. For the 10,000 Munster supporters in Cardiff, the Six Nations takes center stage for the next two months, and then their team goes to Leicester for an eagerly awaited European Cup quarterfinal.
Who knows, now that they’ve got a monkey off their backs, Munster might just get to like the winning habit.

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