Munster edge out Edinburgh
September 1, 2012
Munster skipper Doug Howlett shackles Edinburgh's Nick de Luca
© PA Photos
Edinburgh winger Tim Visser kicked off the new season with a hat-trick of tries against Munster in their RaboDirect PRO12 clash on Saturday night but it was not enough to prevent his side from slipping to a narrow 23-18 defeat.
An 18-point haul from fly-half Ian Keatley, plus a try from winger Luke O'Dea, gave Munster the points in an error-strewn game.
Edinburgh coach Michel Bradley has left his men in no doubt that they must deliver an improvement on last season's 11th place and he has recruited heavily to help deliver that objective. Bradley's project remains a work in progress and for their part Munster were well short of their best but displayed a clinical edge that was lacking in the home ranks.
Munster shaded the opening exchanges without really troubling the Edinburgh defence before the hosts finally sparked into life when Scotland international Visser burst from deep, although his efforts came to nothing.
That swung the momentum Edinburgh's way and the breakthrough came on 13 minutes when Nick De Luca made a break following a scrum in midfield and drew two defenders before offloading to Greig Tonks, whose perfectly-timed pass freed Visser for an untroubled stroll to the line.
Munster had a chance to trim the deficit when Keatley lined up a penalty from close to the half-way line. However, while he had the length, his direction was awry. The score was delayed only briefly and when the referee detected an Edinburgh hand in a ruck five minutes later, the stand off bisected the posts to open his side's tally.
It took a thumping tackle by Ross Ford on Denis Hurley to keep the Edinburgh line intact. In the aftermath, the ball was turned over under the Edinburgh posts and number 8 Stuart McInally pounced, eluding three tacklers before passing to Visser who sprinted over for his second try.
The visitors rallied and squared matters before the break. Doug Howlett chipped ahead and, when the bounce wrong-footed Laidlaw, Keatley was on hand to dot down before adding the conversion for a 10-10 half-time scoreline.
The Munster No.10 then edged his side into the lead when he fired over another penalty two minutes after the restart. Edinburgh raised the pace and Ross Rennie wasted a scoring chance when he kicked aimlessly ahead rather than pass to Richie Rees, who was at the flanker's elbow.
The Scots resorted to the boot to restore parity when Laidlaw stroked over a close-range penalty. With 58 minutes on the clock the visitors regained the lead. A lineout in the Edinburgh 22 was the platform for a move that ended with O'Dea slicing through the Edinburgh defence to touch down and leave Keatley a simple job to add the extra two points.
Keatley ensured Edinburgh would need two scores to take anything from the game when he landed another penalty.
Visser made such an outcome possible when he took an acrobatic pass from De Luca to dart in at the corner for his third unconverted try seven minutes from full-time. But, that was that for the Scots, who were left with only a narrow losing bonus-point to show for their efforts.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin