28 August 2015
London Irish travelled to Cork to play Munster for their first preseason game of the 2015/16 season, and their first match under new head coach, Tom Coventry.
The Exiles battled to the very last second and despite a late comeback through tries from Christian Lewis-Pratt and Gerard Ellis, Munster held on for the 21-15 win.
The opening exchanges saw both sides look to run the ball with the London Irish back three of Topsy Ojo, Andrew Fenby and Alex Lewington linking up well and finding gaps in the Munster defence.
Both sides defended well, keeping scoring chances to a minimum as neither team could find a way through the opposition.
The breakthrough came at 23 minutes with a quick ball at the breakdown which saw Munster’s Francis Saili to run it up through the middle. Saili then offloaded to Andrew Conway who chipped the ball over the top.
The fullback pinned back his ears and won the footrace to dot it down under the sticks, Bill Johnston added the extras to give the hosts a 7–0 lead.
The Exiles came close to striking back immediately. Ojo launched an attack from the halfway line, breaking through the defence up to the 22. The winger offloaded well to Fenby who passed it onto Lewington but the winger was just unable to score, being dragged into touch inches from the line.
Lewington came close again minutes later. Breaking away from the Munster ten-metre line after 36 minutes. Lewington showed his pace to get clear, only for a last ditch tackle from Conway to clip him into touch.
The remainder of the half saw both sides look to control territory. Both Scott Steele and Theo Brophy Clews kicked well, pinning Munster back but the hosts retained possession well and held onto their lead going into the break.
London Irish made wholesale changes at the break with Tom Coventry keen for his whole squad to have a run out. Munster came out of the traps flying in the second half, first Conway crossed from short range for his second before Francis Saili stepped his way over to make the score 21-3.
London Irish showed great spirit to fight back, with Ross Neal and Johnny Williams linking well in the midfield. Christian Lewis-Pratt showed his class to score from the halfway line, stepping past the cover defence to score in the corner, Brendan McKibbin was unable to covert bringing the score to 21-8.
And on the 80th minute Gerard Ellis crashed over for the Exiles’ second try. After a quick penalty, Ellis found the space out wide and darted in at the corner. This time McKibbin made no mistakes and struck the conversion from out on the touchline to make the final score 21-15.
“It was quite a scrappy game but pleasing to give the whole squad a run out,” said London Irish Head Coach, Tom Coventry, after the game.
“The boys performed well out there in front of a tough team, and the Academy players also did really well. Giving guys opportunities is what it is all about at this time of year.
“We finished strongly and maybe we left three or four tries out there. If some of those had come off then maybe things would have gone our way a bit more.
“There are a lot of positives to take but we were beaten tonight and at the end of the day that is what rugby is all about. We will go away and look over the game and re-assess and try to build our game over the next six weeks building into the Harlequins games.”
Score Sequence (London Irish first):
London Irish: 0-5, 0-7, 3-7, 3-12, 3-14, 3-19, 3-21, 8-21, 13-21, 15-21
Munster: Tries: Conway (23, 49), Saili (52). Conversions: Johnston (23, 49) Keatley (52)
London Irish: Penalties: Brophy Clewes (41) Try: Lewiss-Pratt (75), Ellis (80) Conversions: McKibbin (80)
15. Andrew Fenby; 14. Alex Lewington; 13. Eoin Griffin; 12. Dominic Waldouck; 11. Topsy Ojo; 10. Theo Brophy-Clews; 9. Scott Steele; 1. Tom Court; 2. Gerard Ellis; 3. Richard Palframan; 4. Eoin Sheriff; 5. Matt Symons (C); 6. Luke Narraway; 7. Conor Gilsenan; 8. David Sisi
Replacements: Tom Cruse; Tom Smallbone; Geoff Cross; George Skivington; David Paice; Ollie Curry; Brendan McKibbin; Ross Neal; Christian Lewis-Pratt; Johnny Harris; Jimmy Stevens; Conor Murphy; Johnny Williams; Harry Elrington
Munster: 15. Andrew Conway; 14; Stephen Fitzgerald; 13. Francis Saili; 12. Rory Scannell; 11. Gerhard van den Heever; 10. Bill Johnston; 9. Cathal Sheridan; 1. John Ryan; 2. Mike Sherry; 3. Stephen Archer; 4. John Madigan; 5. Dave Foley; 6. Dave O’Callaghan; 7. Jordan Coghlan; 8. CJ Stander (C)
Replacements: 16. James Cronon; 17. Niall Scannell; 18. BJ Botha; 19. Donncha O’Callaghan; 20. Robin Copeland; 21. Shane Buckley; 22. Duncan Williams; 23. Ian Keatley; 24. Shane Monahan; 25. Matt D’Arcy; 26. David Johnston