Border Reivers 0, Munster 36 The Border Reivers failed to find the score-sheet in tonight’s loss to reigning Heineken Cup champions Munster at Netherdale. Having rubbed shoulders with around 30 of the regions past internationals before the game, the Reivers, who had five National Academy players in their squad of 22, could not match the sublime handling and clinical finishing of the home side.Border Reivers 0, Munster 36
The Border Reivers failed to find the score-sheet in tonight’s loss to reigning Heineken Cup champions Munster at Netherdale.
Having rubbed shoulders with around 30 of the regions past internationals before the game, the Reivers, who had five National Academy players in their squad of 22, could not match the sublime handling and clinical finishing of the home side.
However, it was the Reivers who came out of the traps looking the sharper of the two sides. Only five minutes into the game, hooker Steve Scott received the ball back in a quick lineout move only to be hauled down only inches from the line.
Two minutes later, Calum MacRae had an opportunity to put the home side in front, but his penalty attempt from 40 meters went wide.
It was Munster stand-off Jeremy Manning who opened the scoring with an 11th minute penalty, just four minutes before the Reivers were struck a crucial blow as back-rower Scott Gray left the field to be replaced by Scott Forrest.
Munster continued to threat the Reivers’ line, and after a series of pick-and-go drives, found themselves over the whitewash, but a crossing infringement meant the score didn’t count and play was brought back.
A minute later, Ben McDougall almost put the Reivers ahead with an intelligent chip over the defence and into the scoring zone, but a Munster body got there first for a defensive touch down.
Just after the half hour mark, Munster recorded their first of five tries. The ball was chipped over the Reivers’ defensive line and a mismatch out wide with a lock covering a winger, saw Shaun Payne touch down for the score. Manning missed the conversion.
With Welsh referee James Jones keeping the crowd guessing with an array of questionable decisions as Munster continued to get the rub of the green and come off best at every conceivable moment.
With decisions from the referee, the bounce of the ball and luck in the contact all going their way, Munster progressed fifty yards up the pitch as the Reivers did everything in their power to halt their advance.
In first half injury time, Frank Sheehan crossed the line. Sheehan managed to launch himself over the top over Reivers bodies on the line to get the points. Manning converted.
Half-time score: Border Reivers 0, Munster 15
After the break, the Borders tried to find a spark in their side that would ignite the rest of their game, but with players not seizing the split second they were given to pounce on loose balls, it was going to be a tough ask to come back from 15 point down to the top side in Europe.
As the Borders began to struggle with fatigue both physically and mentally, Munster took their performance into fifth gear and scored three tries in the space of ten minutes,
Man of the match Alan Quinlan scored after charging down an attempted clearance kick, Tim McGann strolled in from seven yards out from a simple pick-and-go and Jerry Flannery finished off a series of sublime moves, finding a gap in the midfield.
Man of the Match: Alan Quinlan
Border Reivers:Calum MacRae CAPTAIN; Stuart Moffat, Ben MacDougall, Nick De Luca, Simon Danielli; Steve Jones, Rob Chrystie; Ryan Grant, Steve Scott, Ed Kalman, John Dalziel, Richie Vernon, Scott Newlands, Andy Miller, Scott Gray
Substitutes: Scott Forrest for Gray (15 mins), Bruce Douglas for Kalman (34 mins), Ross Ford for Scott (49 mins), Garry Law for De Luca (59 mins), Ed Kalman for Grant (64 mins), Gregor Townsend for MacRae (67 mins), Brendan McKerchar for Chrystie (73 mins)
Munster: Christian Cullen; Shaun Payne, Barry Murphy, Lifeimi Mafi, Ian Dowling; Jeremy Manning, Tomas O’Leary; Darragh Hurley, Frank Sheehan, Federico Pucciariello, Mick O’Driscoll, Chris Wyatt, Alan Quinlan, Tim McGann, James Coughlan
Substitutes: Donnacha Ryan for Coughlan (17 mins), Jerry Flannery for Sheehan and Eoghan Hickey for Manning (both 46 mins), Tony Buckley for Pucciariello, Brian O’ Meara and Mossy Lawlor (all 62 mins), Mark Melbourne for Chris Wyatt (71 mins)