Munster V Edinburgh
A young and inexperienced Edinburgh side were well beaten in Cork tonight as Munster – who welcomed back eight Irish internationals for the encounter – comfortably took all points on offer.
The capital side were down 34-7 at half-time and with Munster in complete control, the game looked to be in freefall. However, Edinburgh restored their pride with a battling second half-performance and kept the rampant hosts at bay for much of the second period.
Speaking following the match, Head Coach Richard Cockerill accepted that Munster deserved their win, but expressed his pride in the performances of his younger players.
“It was obviously a tough one tonight,” explained Cockerill. “Physically we couldn’t cope and the game was pretty much over at half-time. But, look we battled and stuck at it – but Munster were the far better team and in the end worthy winners
“We dug in there. It had the capability of getting really ugly at one point, but we scored a couple of nice tries and kept on working hard.
“But really, we just weren’t good enough. They were a much better team than us tonight and you have to take your hats off to Munster and say well done. We move onto Europe next week.”
With nine changes to team prior to kick-off, Edinburgh were far from their strongest, however injuries and rest gave a handful of younger players the opportunity to step up to the plate.
Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy graduate George Taylor made his competitive debut at outside centre and impressed with a series of explosive breaks, whilst Jason Baggott made his debut from the bench and looked comfortable pulling the strings at stand-off.
"We take some positives. There were some young players out on the field tonight who gained some valuable experience.
“We would prefer for them not to have that experience all at the same time, but they were out tonight and learned what it looks, feels and smells like – so we’ll take that as a good building block for the club moving forward.
“We’ve got pretty much another team to come back in next week and we can manage the squad as we see fit moving into the next few games.”
Munster broke the deadlock after only six minutes as eventual man of the match, Chris Farrell, added the finishing touches to an explosive goal line attack.
And the hosts would score further tries through Andrew Conway – with the winger picking up a quick-fire double to put his side in a commanding position (19-0) after only 19 minutes played.
Edinburgh struck back almost immediately, however, and it was Duhan van der Merwe who’d find the scoresheet. After collecting the ball in the wide channel, the South African winger showcased his physicality by fending off a series of would be tacklers before crashing over the whitewash.
Van der Merwe’s score would be the only bright spot of a frankly disappointing first-half as Munster winger Keith Earls scored an eight-minute hat-trick to top-off a lopsided opening 40 minutes.
Edinburgh began the second-half with a renewed energy and a clearer sense of urgency – which was apparent in the capital side’s better ability to hold onto the ball.
In a courageous second-half showing, Edinburgh bosses proceedings and had several opportunities to eat in Munster’s sizeable lead.
The capital side would eventually grab another score through the impressive and potent Van der Merwe, but the match was all but wrapped up after a first-half blitz from a star-studded Munster outfit