Plymouth Albion unable to shock Munster in Ireland
Munster A…15 Plymouth Albion…0
PLYMOUTH Albion's hopes of creating a shock never looked like materializing in Cork as the reigning champions took another step towards retaining their crown.
The difference between the two sides in last night's B&I Cup clash at Temple Hill all came down to making better use of resources when the teams were understrength at different stages of the game.
Munster produced heroics when reduced to 13 men for 10 minutes in the first half and got the only score of the period, while a 14-man Plymouth side in the second half conceded a crucial try that helped seal Munster's victory, which consolidated their place in the last eight of the competition and puts an end to any hopes Rotherham Titans had of sneaking through.
Overall, the better side won on a cold night in Cork, but Munster got nothing easy from a competitive Albion side who gave as good as they got for most of a hard fought contest - that is until they ran out of steam when reduced in numbers and then in the closing stages when Munster took full control.
Both sides showed enterprise in the opening minutes but scoring chances were confined to place kicks, one each from Scott Deasy and Ruairi Cushion, playing at fly-half instead of scrum-half. Irishman Cushion came the closest to the target when his well struck effort came back off an upright.
As the first half wore on Munster were in no doubt that it was going to be a tough struggle against a side they beat 26-22 in the corresponding fixture in Plymouth at the start of November.
Munster's main problems in those opening minutes stemmed from their apparent inability to match a rugged Plymouth front-row, which included Alex Brown, who was making his first start for the club. The host club had problems controlling possession on their own scrums and conceded a worrying amount of penalties against the head. They were fortunate to survive when stand-in kicker Cushion saw a 32nd minute attempt drift harmlessly wide.
Munster's problems mounted, however, within minutes when James Cronin saw yellow from Welsh referee Rhys Thomas for collapsing another scrum and captain Sean Dougall went seconds later for coming in from the side to spoil Plymouth possession.
It really was backs-to-the-wall stuff then but they fought an impressive rear-guard action with their limited personnel and produced a stunning score with the last kick of the half, Deasy brilliantly guiding a 47 metre penalty between the sticks.
The outside half was central to Munster's next score, a brilliant 55th minute try from Corey Hircock - the replacement winger fielding Deasy's delicate chip and charging through for the score.
Plymouth, who had set off at 2.30am in the morning to make the game, started to have their share of scrum problems and Munster prospered after Jack Andrew was sin-binned. The home side opted to scrum instead of kicking a straight forward penalty and it reaped another try from CJ Stander, with Deasy adding the extras for a 15-0 lead.
Plymouth, who went into the game with nothing but pride to play for, battled away until the end but never looked like getting in for a score against the holders, who marched on with another impressive victory.
The one plus for them was the return to action late in the game of back-row forward Herbie Stupple, who had not played for more than four months.
Munster: J Murphy, R O'Mahony, D Barnes, I Dinneen, L O'Dea, S Deasy, C Sheridan. J Cronin, D Casey, C Condon, I Nagle, D Foley, D O'Callaghan, CJ Stander, S Dougall (captain).
Replacements: C Hircock for O'Dea (40), A Cotter for Condon (52), N Scannell for Casey (61), D Sweetnam for Barnes (62), B Hayes for Foley (68), R Murphy for Dougall (72), B Haugh for Sheridan (77), Cotter for O'Callaghan (temporary, 36-42).
Plymouth Albion: R McAtee, L Warner, K Fislau, B Armitage, T Bowen, R Cushion, P Rowley, J Andrew, L Cowan-Dickie, A Brown, H Tovey, W Carrick-Smith, R Nasiga, A Carpenter (captain), S Hocking.
Replacements: S Matavesi for Carpenter (58), L Fairbrother for Brown, J Salter for Cowan-Dickie (both 72), H Stupple for Tovey (73), P Bailey for Rowley (75), B Rogers for Nasiga (63-73, temporary).
Referee: Rhys Thomas (Wales)
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