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EMBRA DROP POINT AT THOMOND

Munster: 10 (3) Edinburgh: 21 (14)



On a night when the Reivers downed one of Ireland's European aristocrats, taking out a full strength Leinster 22-19 at Netherdale, Edinburgh accounted for another, Munster, away from home.  Eleven points from Chris Paterson, including a try, and two further scores from Simon Webster and all-action Ali Dickinson, saw Embra run out deserved three tries to one winners in Limerick tonight.  The win was Lynn "Yoda" Howells' fifth time lucky at the venue.  An excellent result.

With Munster looking to build up some momentum a week before beginning the defence of the Heineken title that was their destiny last season, Edinburgh's first win at Thomond Park (they have won before in Cork) was all the more impressive.  Quite why the Magnersleague website suggested that the European champions, at full strength in front of a 7,000 crowd, would be taking it easy is difficult to fathom. 

In any event, they were swept aside by a display of Edinburgh total rugby that showed not only that Embra can now win ugly, as they had done hitherto this term, but win beautifully too.  The only blot on an otherwise blemish-free copybook was a leg injury to skipper Chris Paterson, the seriousness of which will be assessed over the weekend.

The capital men can now look forward to next week's Heineken trip with confidence.  A good job too, as they may actually have to win that away game if they are to stand a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.

Meanwhile, back in Limerick, the Gunners were under pressure from the off, conceding a fourth minute penalty for an apparently deliberate knock on by Blair with Munster threatening.  Munster kicked for the corner and attempted to maul over.  They were held, then when the ball was spun across field, Rob Dewey's power tackle forced the turnover.  O'Gara retired with an early shoulder injury as a result, and his replacement, Hickey, knocked over a penalty on 12 minutes.

The replacement stand-off then had a clearance charged down by new father, Mighty Matt Mustchin, who gathered and headed for the line.  Dougie Hall, The Dingwall Dynamo, took the pass, but was held up over the line by desperate Munster defenders.

This set up a full 15 minutes of Edinburgh pressure in the Munster 22, with Phil Godman also being held up over the line.  But with Munster under the cosh as the visitors probed, it was only a matter of time.  And it was the future Scotland front row legend,  Ali Dickinson, who rounded off several quick phases close in to barrel over for the converted try off a Strokosch feed as the second quarter began.  7-3 Embra, a lead they were not to lose.

Just before the break, Strokosch snaffled turnover ball on halfway and set sail for the home line.  The big man turned provider a second time, feeding his skipper as he was caught by the cover.  Paterson's cute chip beat South African full back Shaun Payne, and Mossy took great delight in collecting and touching down for a fine score, coverted by himself to give Edinburgh a well-deserved 14-3 lead at half-time.

When playing a side of Munster's class, even a substantial lead does not leave you home and dry until no-side.  But the writing was surely on the wall when the visitors notched their third try, just five minutes after the restart. 

Again, Embra were looking to attack at every opportunity, and a trademark mazy run by Paterson sparked them again.  The winger was just tackled ten yards out, then Blair fed half-back partner Godman from the ruck.  A clever inside flip from the stand-off found Webster coming in on the angle, and Webbo nipped over at speed for another fine try, again converted by Paterson.

Munster retained faith in their usual mauling game, and Leamy reduced the deficit shortly after with a close range try, converted by Hickey.

The first hints of embalming fluid could be discerned in the night air, as the introduction of veteran stand-off Duncan "Methuselah" Hodge drew near.  But the great man was introduced a little earlier than planned, when Paterson went down hurt on 55 minutes.  Hodgey slotted in at full back, with Hugo moving over to the wing.

With the locals urging them on, Munster cranked up the pressure.  But try as they might, while their maul sometimes made good ground, they could not break down a resolute Embra defence. 

With even the local press acknowledging that the better side had won on the night, this was a fine Edinburgh display, both in attack and defence.  Munster's strength is predominantly in their pack, and it may be that Massimo Cuttita's work is already paying dividends, with the visiting front row earning rave reviews.  Meanwhile, with Di Rollo and Dewey creating chances while closing down Munster's attack further out, and Paterson and Webster looking dangerous every time they had the ball, Edinburgh's cutting edge seems to be returning.

BONUS POINT WATCH: Spookily, the Celtic League has, in the last three seasons, been won by a club notching 75 or 76 points.  in other words, 16 wins and 11 or 12 bonus points.  Although Edinburgh's win tally is looking good so far, only one bonus point from six games so far is behind schedule. But, given that most Edimbourgeois would have been happy with a loser's bonus point tonight, the win, plus depriving Munster of the former, represented a fine evening's work for the visitors.


SCORERS: 

Edinburgh:
Paterson 1T 3C, Dickinson 1T, Webster 1T

Munster: Hickey 1P 1C, Leamy 1T

TEAMS:

Munster: S
Payne, T O'Leary, B Murphy, T Halstead, I Dowling, R O'Gara, P Stringer; M Horan, F Sheahan, F Pucciariello, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, D Leamy, D Wallace, A Foley.

Edinburgh: Hugo, C Paterson (captain), M Di Rollo, R Dewey, S Webster, P Godman, M Blair, A Jacobsen, D Hall, A Dickinson, M Mustchin, S Murray, A Strokosch, D Callam, A MacDonald. Replacements: A Kelly, C Smith, D Hewett, F Pringle, C Laidlaw, S Cross, D Hodge.


Referee: Fear (Wales)