ERROR-ridden Munster suffered a shock 23-29 defeat to Edinburgh in their opening Heineken Cup pool match before 7,034 supporters at Murrayfield this Saturday.
The Scottish side - sitting bottom of the RaboDirect PRO12 - stunned their out-of-sorts visitors when winger Tim Visser crossed for the decisive match-winning try in the 69th minute.
Following this hugely frustrating defeat, Munster now face another uphill battle to make the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup with Gloucester visiting Thomond Park on Saturday next at 6pm.
Similar to last season’s disappointing Heineken Cup opening day defeat to Racing Metro in France, Munster contributed significantly to their own downfall against Edinburgh with their high error-count, after the visitors finally gotten into a position to win the game at 23-19 with a little over 10 minutes remaining.
Munster rallied well after falling 10-0 behind early and tries from centre Casey Laulala and hooker Mike Sherry had Penney’s men 17-13 to the good after 27 minutes.
However, Munster’s poor discipline hurt the visitors hard coming up to half time and two penalty goals from Man of the Match Greig Laidlaw helped the Scottish side - which lost all six pool matches last season - into a 19-17 half-time lead.
Munster’s discipline did improve in the second half and their defence tightened up, but the visitors continued to make too many mistakes. Two Ian Keatley penalty goals had Munster four points to the good with just over 10 minutes remaining. However, Visser’s try - only awarded after match referee JP Doyle was satisfied Munster replacement out-half JJ Hanrahan had not been illegally checked after making a clearance and Edinburgh’s try-scoring pass had not been forward - helped the home side regain the initiative.
Scrum-half Laidlaw added a further penalty to stretch Edinburgh’s lead to six points. Indeed, Munster came within the width of a crossbar of being denied a losing bonus point after a late penalty attempt from Laidlaw collided over the woodwork before being cleared to safety.
Munster will also be forced to sweat on the fitness of Lions winger Simon Zebo ahead of next weekend’s home tie with Gloucester. The winger was forced off with a leg injury inside the closing 10 minutes of the game.
SCORERS - Edinburgh Matt Scott, Tim Visser try each, Greig Laidlaw five pens, two cons.
EDINBURGH - Jack Cuthbert; Douglas Fife, Nick De Luca, Matt Scott, Tim Visser; Harry Leonard, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, Willem Nel, Grant Gilchrist, Sean Cox, Dimitri Basilaia, Cornell du Preez, David Denton. Replacements: Roddy Grant for Basilaia (60 mins), Geoff Cross for Nel, Lodewicus Baaauw for Dickinson (both 70 mins),
MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Keith Earls, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Simon Zebo; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; David Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer, Donncha Ryan, Paul O’Connell (capt), Paddy Butler, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan. Replacements: Denis Hurley for Downey (temp 12-21 mins), BJ Botha for Archer, James Cronin for Kilcoyne (both 53 mins), CJ Stander for Butler (55 mins), Damien Varley for Sherry (58 mins), Denis Hurley for Downey (61 mins), Donncha O’Callaghan for Ronan (64 mins), JJ Hanrahan for Jones (68 mins), Duncan Williams for Zebo (72 mins).
REFEREE - JP Doyle (England)