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Fixture Type: Heineken Cup
Match Date: Sat 22 Jan 2011
Kick Off: 15:30
Venue: Thomond Park
Referee: Peter Allan
TV Match Official: Derek Bevan
Assistant Referee: Gwyn Morris
Assistant Referee: Jonathan Mason
Jamie Gibson, who had an outstanding game, was sent to the sin bin in the last 10 minutes and that combined with some inspired substitutions by the Munster coaching staff, allowed the home side to run in three tries at the death.
It was a bitterly cold afternoon in Limerick which was heated up with the incredible noise that 26,000 passionate rugby fans made for the entire 80 minutes.
<1>There was not a great deal to pick between the two sides in the first half. Munster had plenty of possession, but couldn’t seem to break down the Irish defence. The Munstermen did manage to get over the Exiles line four times, but commitment from the London Irish forwards in particular to get under the ball, stopped the home side from scoring any points.
Faan Rautenbach was sent to the sin-bin after 16 minutes, during which the Exiles kept the ball tight with both Darren Allinson and Dan Bowden kicking the ball into the corners and giving the home side no field position from which to attack from. The Irish set piece was solid with young prop, Alex Corbisiero getting the better of his opponent, John Hayes, who has over 100 caps for Ireland. Matt Garvey and Nick Kennedy were equally effective in the lineout with Kennedy stealing Munster throw-ins on more than one occasion.
Irish’s best chance of points in the first half came after the front five forwards picked the ball from the base of the ruck for five or six phases before Allinson fired a pass back to Dan Bowden in the pocket who saw his drop kick sail just wide of the posts.
Munster dominated possession in the last 10 minutes of the first half with plenty of ball retention in the Exiles 22. Solid Irish defence nullified any chance of a Munster scoring opportunity, although they were fortunate when Mafi was ruled to have thrown a forward pass to Keith Earls who would have scored in the corner.
The score was 0-0 at half time. Irish had defended for their lives with the forwards covering every blade of grass.
Munster started the second half with a bang. They scored their first try after 44 minutes doing what Munster do best powering over the opposition line from a metre out. This time it was Damien Varley. O’Gara added the extras and it was 7-0 to Munster.
The next 15 minutes belonged to London Irish and it was led by inspirational skipper Seilala Mapusua who put in a thundering tackle, one of many, on opposite number Keith Earls, that was felt by the majority of the 26,000 supporters sitting in the stands to give Irish attacking ball in the Munster 22.
Scrum half, Allinson, put pressure on opposite number Tomas O’Leary from a scrum five metres out from the home teams try line, charging down his opponents box kick. The ball fell nicely into the hands of Mapasua who powered his way over the try line. Bowden added the wide conversion to make the scores level. It was no more than Irish deserved as they were more than handling themselves against their Irish opponents.
The Mapusua try gave Irish a new lease of life. Sailosi Tagicakibau went on a flying 50 metre run beating at least three tackles and sending Ronan O’Gara flying in the process. Irish were on the front foot and were soon joined by Richard Thorpe who came on to make his 100th appearance for the club.
The inspirational Samoan skipper was heavily involved in Irish’s second try that came after 67 minutes. Mapusua put in a grubba kick in the Munster 22 and re-gathered before offloading to Topsy Ojo who then gave a neat pass to Sailosi Tagicakibau who scored in the corner. Ryan Lamb slotted the side line conversion to give the Exiles a 14-7 lead going into the final 10 minutes.
The crowd sensed their side could be in a situation of losing two Heineken Cup games in a row and really turned up the volume for their side in the last 10 minutes.
Jamie Gibson was sin binned after 70 minutes for handling the ball in the ruck and with Irish’s defence now exhausted after all the effort they had put in for the previous 70 minutes, Munster were able to score three tries through Niall Ronan, Keith Earls and Darragh Hurley to eventually win the game 28-14.
All the London Irish players should be extremely pleased with their effort from 1 to 23. Munster’s David Wallace was named man of the match in the end but the award could have gone to a number of the Exiles players.
The team face Northampton in the LV= Cup next week at the Madejski Stadium.
Scorers: London Irish: Tries: Seilala Mapasua 59, Sailosi Tagicakibau, 67 Conversions: Dan Bowden 60, Ryan Lamb 68 Munster: Tries Damien Varley 44, Niall Ronan 71, Keith Earls 74, Darragh Hurley 79 Conversions: Ronan O’Gara 4
Scoring Sequence: (London Irish first) 0-7, 7-7, 14-7, 14-14, 14-21, 14-28
London Irish: 15. Topsy Ojo; 14: Adam Thompstone; 13. Elvis Seveali’i; 12. Seilala Mapasua (Captain); 11. Sailosi Tagicakibau; 10. Dan Bowden (rep: Ryan Lamb, 62); 9. Darren Allinson (rep: Paul Hodgson, 75); 1. Alex Corbisiero (rep: Dan Murphy, 75); 2. James Buckland; 3. Faan Rautenbach (sin bin 16-26) (rep: Paulica Ion, 56); 4. Nick Kennedy (rep: Kieran Roche, 78) ; 5. Matt Garvey; 6. George Stowers (rep: Richard Thorpe, 56); 7. Jamie Gibson (sin bin 70-80); 8. Chris Hala’ufia
Munster: 15. Johne Murphy (rep: Scott Deasy, 62); 14. Doug Howlett; 13. Keith Earls; 12. Lifeimi Mafi; 11. Dennis Hurley; 10. Ronan O’Gara; 9. Tomas O’Leary (rep: Peter Stringer, 67); 1. Wian Du Preez (rep: Hurley, 72); 2. Damien Varley (rep: Mike Sherry, 72); 3. John Hayes (Tony Buckley, 40); 4. Mick O’Driscoll (rep: Donnach O’Callaghan,62); 5. Paul O’Connell (Captain); 6. David Wallace (rep: James Coughlan, 69); 7. Niall Ronan; 8. Dennis Leamy (Captain)
Referee: Peter Allen (SRU)