Smooth it wasn’t, but Munster eventually got the job done at Thomond Park to maintain their interest in the Heineken Cup.
Surprised in Edinburgh last week this match dripped with importance for Munster, who were able to deal with Gloucester’s stubborn resistance. Like so often in the past the Munster start was based on emotion and urgency as they quickly seized the initiative.
Following a good burst of pressure Ian Keatley nailed a routine penalty following a smart drive that was orchestrated by Peter O’Mahony. Scrum-half Conor Murray probed behind a pack that was forcing turnovers and Gloucester’s radically reshaped team had to be gritty.
Jonny Bentley dragged a penalty wide for Gloucester, but Munster were in the groove as Keatley edged the locals into a 6-0 advantage in the ninth minute. Munster were motoring well as another Keatley penalty in the 13th minute was a further sign of their smart start, but Gloucester responded.
Dan Robson’s sharp 16th minute break when spotting a small gap fashioned just enough space for Charlie Sharples to touch down in the corner. Though the conversion was particularly awkward Bentley was still able to add the extras and suddenly Gloucester only trailed by two.
Munster remained composed, though, and following lengthy deliberation the TMO ruled to allow a Damien Varley try on 35 with Keatley converting. Gloucester were proving to be rugged and resourceful and by the time the interval rolled around a Bentley penalty had the deficit trimmed to 16-10.
After the restart Munster were in the ascendancy, but they failed to turn their supremacy into scores until Keatley slotted a 66th minute penalty. Seconds later Keatley’s glorious crossfield kick was gathered by Johne Murphy, who had the pace and power to seal Munster’s win with an opportunistic try.
Munster: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Johne Murphy; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley, BJ Botha; Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell; Donnacha Ryan, Sean Dougall, Peter O’Mahony. Replacements: Denis Hurley for Jones (57 mins), JJ Hanrahan for Hurley (66 mins), James Cronin for Kilcoyne (66 mins), James Coughlan for O’Callaghan (66 mins), CJ Stander for Ryan (70 mins), Mike Sherry for Varley (73 mins), Stephen Archer for Botha (75 mins), Cathal Sheridan for Downey (78 mins).
Gloucester: Martyn Thomas; Charlie Sharples, Mike Tindall, Ryan Mills, Jonny May; Jonny Bentley, Dan Robson; Dan Murphy, Darren Dawidiuk, Rupert Harden; Lua Lokotui, Will James (capt); Matt Cox, Akapusi Qera, Ben Morgan. Replacements: Rob Cook for Martin Thomas (7 mins), Gareth Evans for Cox (41 mins), Freddie Burns for Bentley (49 mins), James Hudson for Lokotui (49 mins), Tavis Knoyle for Robson (66 mins), Yann Thomas for Murphy (75 mins). Referee: Jerome Garces (France).Also Read