WATCH: Seven-try Munster thump London Irish in pre-season friendly

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent, at Musgrave Park

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent, at Musgrave Park

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ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

WATCH: Munster

Scrum-half Neil Cronin gets his pass away during the province's pre-season friendly fixture with London Irish at Musgrave Park on Friday night

CENTRE Dan Goggin bagged a brace of tries as Munster scored a convincing 45-5 victory over London Irish in the first of their two pre-season fixtures played out before an official attendance of 5,678 at Musgrave Park on Friday night.

After a slow-moving first half, which was stop start in nature, an experimental Munster side upped their performance level several notches after the break, stunning their visitors with six further tries to claim the Jack Wakefield Memorial Trophy.

While Goggin grabbed a brace of tries - one in either half, there were also five-pointers from Mike Haley, JJ Hanrahan, hooker Diarmuid Barron, hugely impressive number eight Jack O'Sullivan on his senior debut, and winger Liam Coombes.

Munster handed senior debuts to seven players in all, flanker John Hodnett, powerful South African-born prop Keynan Knox, centre Alex McHenry, scrum-half Nick McCarthy who has joined the province from Leinster, second row Thomas Ahern and Glenstal Schools Senior Cup winner Ben Healy.

With 12 Munster players on duty for Ireland at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, Johann van Graan's line-up to face 'Irish' included a mix of youth and experience.

Eight Greencore Munster Rugby Academy players were named in the Munster starting XV. The game saw Darren Sweetnam start at full-back for Munster for the first time 

The first 10 minutes was scrappy as one might expect with both sides having their first hit-out of the season. 

'Irish' created the first decent scoring opportunity in the 12th minute when awarded a penalty just outside the Munster '22. The Exiles opted for a kick to the corner. However, having won clean possession from the line-out, the visitors infringed from the subsequent maul with Munster awarded a relieving penalty.

The first score of the game arrived in the 22nd minute after Munster had moved the ball swiftly across the pitch from right to left. Inside centre Dan Goggin then displayed his nifty footwork to power his way over the tryline.

Out-half Bleyendaal also landed the difficult conversion for a 7-0 lead for the home side.

Munster lost number eight Gavin Coombes to injury on the half hour mark and he was replaced by Paddy Butler who has been training with the province in recent weeks having returned from Bordeaux.

Two minutes later Peter McCabe, who has also been training with Munster recently, was introduced for powerful prop Knox.

'Irish' were very unfortunate not to hit back with a try of their own in the 39th minute. From a penalty, Declan Kidney's side again opted for a kick to the corner. The Exiles won the line-out and mauled their way towards the Munster tryline. They then opted to spread the ball wide, with centre Terence Hepetema showing a terrific piece of improvisation to fly-kick the ball on. However, winger Ollie Hassell-Collins knocked the ball on with the line at his mercy.

Munster, who maintained their 7-0 lead until the break rung the changes at half-time - making 13 in all - with Coombes coming back on for Butler in the back-row.

Among those to feature off the bench was prop James Cronin, who was making his first appearance since last November after battling back from injur

Not to be outdone, Declan Kidney made 14 changes to his London Irish side at the interval.

The home side made the perfect start to the second half when the fit-again Jack O'Sullivan, a replacement for Gavin Coombes at half-time, powered his way up the left flank, wrongfooting the 'Irish' cover with a well-executed dummy before touching down.

Another half-time replacement JJ Hanrahan added an excellent touchline conversion to help Munster into a 14-0 lead on 44 minutes.

Back came London Irish however, the visitors crossing for their first try two minutes later when centre Matt Williams dotted down to make it 14-5.

The see-saw nature of the scoring continued in the 52nd minute when off a scrum deep inside the visitors' '22, number eight O'Sullivan, fed Craig Casey who in turn put full-back Mike Haley over for the home side's third try.

Hanrahan converted to help Munster into a 21-5 lead.

Munster had their fourth try of the evening on the hour mark when Goggin notched his second try of the game with another clinical finish, following good play by out-half Hanrahan and another replacement Shane Daly.

The home side's lead was now out to 26-5. Hanrahan himself was on hand in the 63rd minute to claim Munster's fifth try from close range after another powerful surge from the rampaging O'Sullivan.

Replacement Diarmuid Barron then added a sixth try for Munster, with Hanrahan's converting and also adding the extras to Liam Coombes late touchdown.

The one down side for Munster from the night was an unfortunate leg injury picked up by winger Calvin Nash late on.

Munster’s second pre-season fixture ahead sees the province travel to Galway for a clash against Connacht at the Sportsground on Saturday next, September 21 (3pm).

The Guinness PRO14 campaign kicks off for Munster against Dragons at Thomond Park on Saturday, September 28, again 3pm.

This was London Irish's only pre-season fixture and acts as preparation for their Premiership Cup campaign, which begins on Saturday, September 21 with a trip to Kingsholm to play Gloucester Rugby.

SCORERS: Munster: Dan Goggin two tries, Jack O'Sullivan, Mike Haley, Diarmuid Barron, Liam Coombes, try each, Tyler Bleyendaal con, JJ Hanrahan try, four cons. London Irish: Matt Williams try

MUNSTER: Darren Sweetnam; Calvin Nash, Alex McHenry, Dan Goggin, Liam Coombes; Tyler Bleyendaal (Capt), Neil Cronin; Jeremy Loughman, Kevin O’Byrne, Keynan Knox; Darren O’Shea, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue, John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes. Replacements from: Diarmuid Barron, James Cronin, Peter McCabe, Stephen Archer, Thomas Ahern, Seán O’Connor, Arno Botha, Tommy O’Donnell, Jack O'Sullivan, Paddy Butler, Craig Casey, Nick McCarthy, JJ Hanrahan, Ben Healy, Shane Daly, Rory Scannell, Mike Haley.

LONDON IRISH: Tom Parton; Tom Fowlie, Curtis Rona, Terence Hepetema, Ollie Hassell-Collins; Stephen Meyler, Rory Brand; Harry Elrington, Dave Porecki, Lovejoy Chawatama, Chunya Munga, Franco van der Merwe; George Nott, Conor Gilsenan, Matt Rogerson. Replacements from: Will Goodrick-Clarke, Ross McMillan, Patric Cilliers, Bareny Maddison, Sam Collingridge, Ben Donnell, Blair Cowan, Izaiha Moore-Aiono, Scott Steele, Jacob Atkins, Ben Loader, Matt Williams, Brendan Macken, Will Partington. 

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)