WATCH: Ben Healy the hero as 14-Munster stun Scarlets in Guinness PRO14 opener

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

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Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

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ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

WATCH: Ben Healy the hero as 14-Munster stun Scarlets in Guinness PRO14 opener

Ben Healy looks to make a break in Munster's Guinness Pro14 victory over the Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday

ACADEMY out-half Ben Healy proved the hero for 14-man Munster as he slotted a dramatic match-winning penalty with the final kick of the game to help his side secure a 30-27 victory over the Scarlets at a wet Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.

Twenty one-year-old Healy, who captained Glenstal Abbey School to their first ever Munster Schools Senior Cup success in 2018, showed admirable composure to land the match winning penalty goal from inside his own half to secure a precious opening day win for Munster in the Guinness PRO14.

Resilient Munster had clawed themselves back into the contest in the closing minutes after the visitors trailed by 10 points, 27-17, late on.

Munster played the final 11 minutes with 14 players after captain Peter O'Mahony was sent off for receiving two yellow cards during the contest.

However, a penalty from replacement Healy on 73 minutes, followed a try from hooker Kevin O'Byrne off a rolling maul gave Munster hope. 

Healy added the extras to O'Byrne's try and then crucially converted the decisive penalty at the death. 

Leigh Halfpenny’s record-breaking nine penalties looked to have put Scarlets into a winning position but the visitors made light of being a man down to earn victory in the most unlikely fashion in a fantastic opening round contest.

Perhaps not helped by the damp conditions, both sides struggled to find their fluency in the opening stages and it took 17 minutes for the deadlock to be broken.

The opening points came from the familiar source of Halfpenny’s boot after O’Mahony was penalised at a ruck to put Scarlets in front.

Jonathan Davies, playing his first Guinness PRO14 match since May 2019, then gave a reminder as to what Scarlets and Wales have been missing with a perfectly weighted kick downfield that forced Damian de Allende to carry the ball over his own line.

Scarlets couldn’t force home their advantage from the scrum but Halfpenny was on hand to stretch their lead with another penalty shortly afterwards and Munster received a further blow when O’Mahony was yellow carded for a no-arm tackle.

Halfpenny’s third penalty made it 9-0 but the 14-man visitors hit back with the first try of the afternoon through Jack O’Donoghue, who collected de Allende’s offload after an excellent break by Andrew Conway.

Munster’s lack of discipline at the breakdown continued to hold them back and another Halfpenny three-pointer made it 12-7 at the break, with JJ Hanrahan sending a penalty of his own inches wide in the final minute of the first half.

The second half continued in the same vein, with Halfpenny slotting his sixth penalty of the afternoon six minutes after the restart.

Hanrahan responded with one of his own but infringements by Munster replacements Fineen Wycherley and Healy were each punished by Halfpenny as Scarlets stretched their lead to 24-10.

Chris Farrell barged over for Munster’s second try to get the visitors back into the game but there was a sting in the tail as O’Mahony received his second yellow card for a no-arm challenge in the aftermath - not dissimilar to that which saw him sin-binned in the first half.

Halfpenny added insult to injury by superbly converting the penalty from the halfway line which followed, making light of the windy conditions to write his name into the Scarlets history books with his ninth penalty - beating the previous record of eight held by Stephen Jones and Byron Hayward.

But Healy responded with a penalty of his own to bring Munster within a converted score of levelling and the vital try arrived when replacement Kevin O’Byrne finished off a rolling maul.

Healy added the extras and then, with the clock in the red, held his nerve to replicate Halfpenny’s kick from halfway and win the game for his side - the first time Munster were in front all afternoon.