Munster labour past Aironi
October 28, 2011
Ireland's Paul O'Connell made his return to provincial duty in the game in Cork
© PA Photos
Ronan O'Gara's right boot guided Munster to their first win in three RaboDirect PRO12 matches as they overcame Aironi 18-6 at Musgrave Park.
The returning Ireland out-half and Aironi debutant Luciano Orquera were the only scorers in a tryless, rain-hit first half. O'Gara sent over three penalties for a 9-3 interval advantage and converted three more in the second period as Tony McGahan's men got back to winning ways.
Australian recruit Will Chambers got his hands on the ball before O'Gara sent over a well-judged penalty from the left for the fourth-minute opener. Munster had a stranglehold on possession early on, O'Gara rewarding the home scrum with a second successful penalty.
But Orquera, who had missed an earlier effort from inside his own half, slotted a close-range 13th-minute penalty and Aironi soon made inroads into Munster territory. They drew a penalty at the breakdown from an over-eager James Coughlan, however Orquera screwed his attempt wide from a very kickable position.
Damien Varley burst through the middle of a ruck to give the hosts some momentum, but he failed to find his man at the resulting lineout and Sinoti Sinoti countered for the Italians.
Munster had to defend a couple of mauls before a back-handed pass from Chambers almost set up Johne Murphy for the game's first try-scoring chance.
Munster's attacks were too predictable at times and Aironi kept their discipline until Fabio Staibano was penalised at a scrum and O'Gara, into a fresh wind, pushed the lead out to six points.
Orquera missed an injury-time chance to reply - again from inside his own half - and O'Gara strengthened Munster's hand with two more three-pointers after the restart.
Paul O'Connell and his forward colleagues forced the issue coming to the hour mark, their scrum driving Aironi back, and the Italians' indiscipline was beginning to hurt them.
O'Gara followed his only miss with an accurate 57th-minute kick and Aironi prop Staibano was sin-binned soon after for dropping a scrum. But Aironi dug deep while down to 14 men and even managed to add to their tally through Orquera's second penalty goal.
In a scrappy climax, Tomas O'Leary was forced off with a knock and Scott Deasy, already on for O'Gara, stepped in to play scrum-half. Deasy was unfortunate when the ball fell off the kicking tee as he ran up to attempt a penalty. The young half-back kick two further penalties into touch, but Munster's experienced pack were unable to unlock Aironi's stubborn defence.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action