Munster edge frenetic clash with Scarlets
Munster kept up their bid for a top-four finish in the BKT United Rugby Championship by seeing off Scarlets 49-42 in a frenetic 13-try tussle at Musgrave Park.
Graham Rowntree’s men built a 35-7 half-time lead thanks to tries from Patrick Campbell, Calvin Nash, Shane Daly (two) and Paddy Patterson, pocketing their bonus point inside 27 minutes.
Scarlets, who had won their first six games of 2023, sparked into life during the third quarter as Vaea Fifita, Sione Kalamafoni and Sam Lousi all crossed to add to Joe Roberts’ earlier effort.
Two bonus points
Although Gavin Coombes and Nash took Munster’s try tally to seven, the battling Scarlets took home two bonus points thanks to closing scores from replacement Gareth Davies and Tom Rogers.
Munster tore out of the blocks with two tries inside the opening 12 minutes, the first one from Campbell after Antoine Frisch’s slick offload out the back.
Lousi’s tap tackle denied Jean Kleyn from close range, but Patterson’s flicked pass back inside soon had Nash scampering in behind the posts.
Joey Carbery converted both scores and the possession-starved Scarlets, who lost Johnny McNicholl to injury, then watched Carbery and Nash feed Daly for his first of the night.
The quick-reacting Patterson stepped inside Steff Evans for try number four, converted again by Carbery to make it 28-0.
Following a sharp Johnny Williams run up into the Munster 22, Fifita used Sam Costelow’s skip pass to send Roberts over for a seven-pointer out wide.
However, a weaving Daly was put through a gap by Carbery, whose conversion reopened the 28-point gap at the break.
Into the second half, lock Fifita was sprung through by Kalamafoni’s inside pass for a 40-metre run-in. Costelow converted, leaving it 35-14.
Number eights Coombes and Kalamafoni then traded tries, the latter pinching a loose ruck ball to strike from a few metres out.
Lousi bagged their first bonus point from a quick-witted 60th-minute attack, but Nash trailed both Jack Crowley and Daly to complete his brace.
Dan Davis’ barnstorming break set up Davies for Scarlets’ fifth try, and a sixth followed when Costelow’s nicely delayed 76th-minute pass put Rogers over, but seven points is as close as they came.
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Scarlets went 3 tries down and I stopped watching. I hang my head in shame – so little faith!
What a match! To be 35-7 at halftime and come back as they did and so nearly win was a great watch.