TODAY marks the fifth anniversary of Munster coming within a whisker of defeating New Zealand for the second time at Thomond Park - we look back at some of the best pictures from that memorable night.
Plucky Munster bottled the emotion of the 30th anniversary of their famous 12-0 win over the All-Blacks and came within four minutes of beating the Tri Nations champions for a second time on Tuesday, November 18, 2008.
Given that Munster were missing 10 first choice players, Tony McGahan’s men put in a monumental effort to lead for most of the game.
Leading 16-10 at half-time and in front 16-13 in the closing stages, Munster had the All-Blacks rattled on the night the redeveloped Thomond Park officially opened.
The All-Blacks ability to unload an experienced replacements bench and Joe Rokocoko’s dancing feet spared the visitors’ blushes at the death with his try securing a dramatic 18-16 win for the visitors.
The pre-match pageantry added to the huge sense of occasion. After the then Taoiseach Brian Cowen and IRFU President John Lyons had performed the stadium’s official opening, the air corps delivered the match ball from a helicopter to 1978 captain Donal Canniffe pitchside, while Munster’s ‘78 heroes were warmly greeted in the East Stand. Even better, Munster’s New Zealand contingent of Doug Howlett, Rua Tipoki, Lifeimi Mafi and Jeremy Manning delighted the capacity crowd by performing a four-man haka, with their team-mates linking arms behind them, before Kiwi captain for the night, Piri Weepu, led the tourists through ‘Ka Mate’ in response.
Munster got off to the perfect start and took an early lead thanks to a penalty from out-half Paul Warwick. Warwick added a further penalty and a sensational drop goal later in the half and he also converted a Barry Murphy try after he went over in the corner following a Munster scrum.
UL Bohemian clubman Murphy recalled: “The first option off the scrum was to go left, but Rua (Tipoki) told me to have a look at the right and I had a quick word with Strings (Peter Stringer). Strings did really well to draw his man and give me a run in to the line.
“I got a knock to the head in the first few minutes and I don’t really remember too much of the first half. The lads were slagging me in the dressing room afterwards, saying that I just seemed to get up and sprint back to the half way line after scoring. There was no real celebration. My recollection of that is a bit sketchy.”
All Black’s out-half Stephen Donald netted a try and a penalty in the first half to leave the score 16-10 at the break.
New Zealand increased the pressure in the second half however with just over four minutes remaining they only had one additional penalty to show for their efforts. And just as hopes were growing that a second shock Munster victory was on the cards winger Rokocoko slid over in the corner to edge New Zealand into a decisive two point lead.
Munster centre Rua Tipoki said linking up to perform the haka in front of the All-Blacks was a very special moment “I will always remember it,” Tipoki said. “It was an electrifying moment for the crowd as well, setting them off in a frenzy. The crowd just went ballistic. The adrenalin just pumped, we were trying to keep together,”
SCORERS - Munster: Try: Barry Murphy; Con: Paul Warwick; Pens: Paul Warwick 2; Drop: Paul Warwick. New Zealand: Tries: Stephen Donald, Joe Rokocoko; Con: Stephen Donald; Pens: Stephen Donald 2
MUNSTER - Doug Howlett; Barry Murphy, Rua Tipoki, Lifeimi Mafi, Ian Dowling; Paul Warwick, Peter Stringer; Federico Pucciariello, Frankie Sheahan, Timmy Ryan, Mick O’Driscoll (capt), Donnacha Ryan, James Coughlan, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy. Replacements: Billy Holland for Leamy (24 mins), Tony Buckley for Ryan (half-time), Jeremy Manning for Tipoki (53), Denis Fogarty for Sheahan (63), John O’Sullivan for Ronan (79). Not used: Mark Melbourne, Mike Prendergast.
NEW ZEALAND - Cory Jane; Hosea Gear, Anthony Tuitavake, Isaia Toeava, Joe Rokocoko; Stephen Donald, Piri Weepu (capt); Jamie Mackintosh, Corey Flynn, Ben Franks, Ross Filipo, Jason Eaton, Adam Thomson, Scott Waldrom, Liam Messam. Replacements: Kieran Read for Thomson (51 mins), John Afoa for Franks (54), Alby Mathewson for Weepu, Hika Elliot for Flynn, Richard Kahui for Gear (all 63), Brad Thorn for Filipo (70), Mils Muliaina for Tuitavake (71).
REFEREE - Romain Poite (France)