Warwick inspires famous Munster victory
November 16, 2010
Paul Warwick inspired Munster in Limerick
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Munster heaped further strain on the touring Wallabies by grinding out a 15-6 victory in torrential conditions at Thomond Park on Tuesday night.
A matter of days after the Test side's humbling defeat to England at Twickenham, Australia's dirt-trackers were sent packing by five shots from the boot of Munster fly-half Paul Warwick, the former Australia Sevens international demonstrating his mastery of the Thomond microclimate with three penalties and two drop-goals.
Australia's midweek skipper Berrick Barnes kicked two penalties in response but was not aided by his side's poor discipline, with centre Anthony Faingaa and prop Ben Daley seeing yellow during a difficult evening that also produced a wild brawl just before the half-time oranges were served.
The victory was welcomed by a cathartic roar from a huge crowd at Thomond Park, with many fans doubtless still nursing the scars of 2008's narrow loss to New Zealand. Their side completed the job on this occasion to file away another victory over the Wallabies alongside famous efforts in 1967, 1981 and 1992.
Seven Australian players will now be jettisoned from the squad prior to Tests against Italy and France, with few having done anything to enhance their case for inclusion against the Azzurri in Florence on Saturday.
Barnes opened the scoring with a pinpoint second-minute penalty to punish Niall Ronan for a ruck offence. Australia then coughed up a couple of penalties, the second after a purposeful maul from the Munster forwards, and another surge from the pack set up Warwick for a successful drop-goal from right in front of the posts.
A promising position for Australia was then spoiled by a crooked lineout throw from Saia Faingaa, and Munster were impressive out of touch, with young lock Ian Nagle a towering presence. The Wallabies were sent scurrying back towards their try-line in the 21st minute, Rod Davies rescuing the situation after former Canterbury prop Peter Borlase and the lively Keith Earls had sparked a kick chase.
From the resulting scrum, Munster threatened through Warwick before the forwards were held up. A powerful shove got the Wallabies out of trouble, winning them a pressure-relieving penalty. Barnes kicked his second penalty in the 29th minute before Munster had Peter O'Mahony to thank for a well-timed tackle on Luke Morahan, as Davies loomed on the right wing. Hands in the ruck saw Faingaa sin-binned before half-time, after repeated warnings from referee Bryce Lawrence, and Munster levelled through Warwick's brilliantly controlled kick from the left.
The Munster out-half was a pivotal figure in the third quarter, landing two crisply struck penalties as Earls held the ball upright in the swirling wind. The initiative was clearly with Munster and up-and-coming talents, including Man of the Match Nagle and O'Mahony, maintained a huge work rate. By contrast, Australia's effort slid and handling errors blighted even Barnes. Starved of possession and territory, Deans' men let their discipline go and Munster had near misses when scrum-half Duncan Williams was held up short of the line and Johne Murphy failed to link with Doug Howlett when the New Zealander was the better option than a solo effort.
Warwick was off target with three more penalty attempts - two from difficult angles on the right and another from distance that found the right hand post. But his snap drop goal, on the hour mark, was enough to get the current Magners League leaders over the finish line. Some committed defence from the lacklustre Wallabies kept Munster try-less but a late yellow card for Daley, who infringed at a ruck in his 22, signalled the end for the tourists.
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