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GUNNERS DOWNED AT THOMOND

Munster: 36 Gunners: 15



At the start of the season, last week's fixture against Cardiff would have been one game that most would have put down as a home banker.  By contrast, this weekend's trip to Thomond Park - where, in fact, the other two Scottish sides have performed rather well this year - would have been seen as the toughest of all the Gunners' away trips.

One out of two ain't bad.

In an entertaining game, Muster ran out deserved winners, wrapping up the try bonus before half time.  Edinburgh gave as good as they got, though, with tries from locks Murray and Duley.  But the home side not only kept their title challenge very much alive, but also warmed up nicely for next weekend's All-Ireland Heineken semi-final.

With no wins out of four from their most recent outings, the Gunners have rather lost momentum since the Six Nations. The top Scottish ranking for next year's Heineken now looks relatively secure, given the equally poor recent form of their compatriots.  But after such a good first half of the campaign, it will be immensely frustrating if the likes of Cardiff and the Ospreys finish ahead of the Edinburgh side this term.

Munster showed once again that the difference between title contenders and mid-table dwellers is as much in the head as in technique or fitness. With European success has come calmness under pressure and supreme faith in their gameplan to deliver.  With that success, too, has come the ability not only to grind out the tough wins, but to take advantage of any chance when confronting title rivals.

These are all qualities that Edinburgh have been developing in recent years. But this last month has shown that there remains some way to go if they are to be realistic challengers for honours next year, as the talent at their disposal suggests they really should be.

Scorers: Munster: Tries: Pucciarello, Payne, Flannery, Dowling, Penalty Try, Kelly; Cons; Burke 3. Edinburgh: Tries: Murray, Duley; Cons: Hodge; Pen: Hodge.

Munster: S Payne, A Horgan, J Kelly, T Halstead, I Dowling, P Burke, P Stringer, A Foley (c), D Wallace, M O'Driscoll, P O'Connell, D O'Callaghan, J Hayes, J Flannery, F Pucciarello. Subs Used: Fogarty, Hogan, O'Sullivan, Roche, Henderson, Prendergast, Lawlor.

Edinburgh: Hugo, F Leonelli, M Di Rollo, P Jorgensen, S Webster, D Hodge, M Blair, S Taylor, A Strokosch, A Hogg, S Murray (c), A Kellock, C Smith, A Kelly, A Dickinson. Subs Used: Godman, de Luca, Duley, MacDonald, Jacobsen.

Referee: H Watkins (Wal). Attendance: 9,500.