Johann van Grann’s men got their pre season off to a solid start with a decent workout in their 45-5 win over London Irish at Musgrave Park on Friday evening.
Munster got through the opening 6 minutes with some nice passages of play, good ball retention and intent. For their part London Irish held firm.
The best Munster sequence of the opening 10 minutes came when John Hodnett counter rucked to drive Irish scrum half Rory Brand off the ball, get back on his feet and claim the turnover.
Two passes later and Kevin O’Byrne found Liam Coombes with a sublime pass but the move came to nothing.
The first real scoring opportunity came in the 12th minute as Irish were awarded a penalty but Stephen Myler kicked for touch and Munster turned over the lineout maul.
The opening try came in the 21st minute when Munster won a lineout in front of the main stand. Possession was secured and some fine carries from Knox and Hodnett created a gap for Dan Goggin who crashed over for 5-0. Bleyendaal added the extras.
Irish had the better chances to add points in the remaining 19 minutes of the half but their efforts were held up short by some concentrated Munster defence. The home side would head into the break with a 7-0 lead.
Muster began the second half with a bang as replacement number 8 Jack O’Sullivan sold the London Irish winger with a scandalous dummy on the 22 to race over for the try. JJ Hanrahan added the extras.
Matty Williams got London Irish off the mark with a try after he gathered a high cross field kick to crash over from 5 metres. The extras were missed and Munster held a 9 point lead.
The response was good as Craig Casey marched his pack up to underneath the Irish posts forcing a penalty from the visitors. Munster opted from the scrum and a clever 8-9 move saw Mike Haley over with JJ adding the extras.
Munster sealed the result on the 59th minute as a clever cross field kick from JJ was fumbled by Irish winger Tom Fowlie into the grateful arms of Dan Goggin who crossed for his second try of the game.
Another really impressive Munster break from O’Sullivan carved the Irish defence open once again and with a 4 on 1 overlap, JJ Hanrahan backed himself to dart over from close range. 31-5 and Munster were staring to pick the Irish defensive apart.
Try number six came via Diarmuid Barron at the end of a series of pick and go moves from under the posts. JJ converted to make it 38-5. One black mark on the night was Calvin Nash’s departure with a let injury with just 5 minutes remaining.
The score of the night would come in the 77th minute as an Irish attack broke down. Liam Coombes pounced on the loose ball, chipped the ball to himself, gathered and ran 80 metres under the posts. 45-6 as JJ converted.
All in all it was a good preseason workout for Munster who face Connacht next at the Showgrounds.