Ha­ley and Scan­nell seal Mun­ster vic­tory

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Rugby -

Mun­ster and their re­turn­ing South African con­tin­gent needed a bonus-point try from Mike Ha­ley and yet an­other long range Rory Scan­nell penalty to se­cure vic­tory over the Chee­tahs in Bloem­fontein.

Arno Botha, Jean Kleyn and Chris Cloete im­pressed in heavy com­bat with fel­low coun­try­men while the Ir­ish-qual­i­fied Tyler Bleyen­daal made a wel­come re­turn from neck prob­lems but it was Mun­ster’s home grown out­half Bill John­ston who im­pressed. John­ston’s loop­ing run and silky left handed pass gifted Liam Coombes a try on de­but with the touch­line con­ver­sion giv­ing Mun­ster a 22-5 lead on 45 min­utes.

That’s when alti­tude be­gan to weigh on trav­el­ling limbs as the Chee­tahs rat­tled off three tries in­side 12 min­utes via Ox Nche, Joseph Dweba and full­back Rhyno Smith, who fin­ished a bril­liant break by scrumhalf Shaun Ven­ter. Tian Schoe­man’s con­ver­sa­tion com­pleted the turn­around to make it 26-22 with 15 min­utes re­main­ing.

Mun­ster coach Jo­hann van Graan emp­tied the bench with Ha­ley’s slick fin­ish re­claim­ing the lead on 68 min­utes only for Ian Keat­ley, who had re­lieved John­ston, to miss the easy con­ver­sion. That meant an in­sur­ance score was needed by Scan­nell, who re­peated his trick to beat Glas­gow last week­end with a 48-me­tre strike giv­ing the tourists a four-point cush­ion.

Keat­ley in­ter­vened once again with a cross-field kick float­ing out on the full to gift the Chee­tahs ter­ri­to­rial ad­van­tage en­ter­ing the fi­nal sec­onds. The Mun­ster pack re­pelled the driv­ing maul to force a scrum and es­cape Toy­ota Park with their first away scalp since April (against the same op­po­si­tion).

This sloppy per­for­mance started in smoother fash­ion, de­spite Sam Arnold be­ing pulled from the line-up due to con­cus­sion as Shane Daly switched to cen­tre and Coombes came onto the wing, when Botha mus­cled over for a try on 15 min­utes.

Mun­ster were put un­der pres­sure when Cloete was sin binned for kick­ing the ball out of a ruck. Dweba claimed his first try from the li­ne­out but Kevin O’Byrne hit back for Mun­ster to leave them lead­ing 15-5 at the turn.

The sec­ond-half show was far from ideal but van Graan was vis­i­bly de­lighted when Dun­can Wil­liams punted the ball into the stand to end a des­per­ate record on the road.

Rory Scan­nell’s 48-me­tre strike gave Mun­ster a four-point cush­ion

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