Carbery’s masterclass dismantles Gloucester
‘CASTLE Grim’ is the Gloucester nickname for Kingsholm.
It stems from the old estate the ground was built on, but by the time Munster had demolished Johan Ackermann’s hapless outfit, turning the castle to rubble, all Gloucester fans were left with was the grim realisation of the chasm between their side and true European Cup contenders.
If Munster were very good, Gloucester were limp in every respect as they slumped to by far their worst home European Cup defeat, and their third loss in a row at Kingsholm.
The Gloucester defence disintegrated like a rotten piece of timber, with Munster all but clinching a quarter-final place after a five-try romp.
The Munster hero was Joey Carbery, whose headto-head with the returning Danny Cipriani was a no contest. The young Irish fly-half scored two tries and kicked seven out of seven for a 26-point haul, whereas Cipriani was left pointless on the scoreboard – and probably wondering whether it was a pointless exercise given the discrepancy in quality between his forwards and Munster’s.
Carbery acknowledged the armchair ride he had been given by his pack.
He said: “Everything we do comes from them. It was a huge team performance tonight.”
The Gloucester pack’s inability to combat Munster’s ball-carrying power and urgency in the loose, or match them for cohesion and discipline at the lineouts and scrums, will be a serious concern to Ackermann.
With the exception of a couple of dents made by Ed Slater there was barely a Gloucester forward who managed to drill over the gain-line.
Expecting Cipriani to somehow produce a silk purse from the sow’s ear possession he got from Ben Morgan and his pack was totally unrealistic.
Conor Murray’s precision box-kicking tormented the fumbling Gloucester back three, and when Munster also messed with the Premiership side’s set-piece – winning the lion’s share of the scrum penalties and piling the pressure on young Gloucester hooker Henry Walker at the lineouts – there was only one side in it.
A good start by Gloucester soon fizzled out, and although they led through an early Billy Twelvetrees penalty, Munster levelled through Carbery, and then took control. Midway through the half a piledriving CJ Stander charge rocked Gloucester, and soon afterwards Carbery sliced through for the opening try.
When he converted and kicked a penalty to make it 13-3 Gloucester were struggling, and it got worse when Rory Scannell shrugged off a Charlie Sharples tackle to score on the stroke of half-time.
Although Gloucester tried to make a game of it in the second half when Cipriani put Ollie Thorley over, and Fraser Balmain nudged over from short range, Munster always had the greater firepower.
Tries by Keith Earls and Andrew Conway – the latter from an inspired Carbery chip – reasserted their dominance, and when Carbery intercepted a Morgan pass all that beckoned for Gloucester was a grim post-mortem.
Green wall: Ben Morgan of Gloucester on the charge In the corner: Keith Earls dives over to score for Munster