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MOSSY RESCUES BONUS IN THE RAIN

Edinburgh: 15 (9) Munster: 20 (17)



As Richard Strauss' tone poem "Also Sprach Zarathustra" boomed over the Murrayfield PA, The Maestro, Ian Turner whipped up tonight's 5,400 crowd into a frenzy.  Then Munster trooped purposefully on to the park, accompanied by some appropriately stirring soundtrack.  Surely something massive, rivalling even the recent Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing, would greet the Edinburgh squad?

Well, there was a wisp of smoke from the tunnel, the pipes played a bit, then Emerson, Lake & Palmer's controversial cover of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" could just about be discerned.  It was all a bit confused and disjointed.  A metaphor for the performance that the Gunners turned in this stormy evening.

Munster were fantastic, though, and fully deserved their win.  They will be pleased to secure the points on one of their more difficult away trips, yet may be kicking themselves that they couldn't quite put Edinburgh away.  Maybe it was the new Australian coach, maybe it was the ELVs, but Muster played an uncharacteristically wide game, bringing their talented threequarters into play at every opportunity.  They have recruited well over the summer and now boast strike runners in every position behind the scrummage.  Meanwhile, O'Connell and O'Callachan reigned supreme in the lineout battle, neutralising what pressure Edinburgh managed to exert.

From an Edinburgh perspective, there will be some solace in securing the bonus point in a match where they could easily have folded.  Indeed, an improbable home victory was a possibility in a frantic last five minutes.  But that would have been an injustice. The Gunners rarely threatened the visitors' line and little errors crept in when they did.  The monsoon conditions did not help, but there was a continuing lack of sharpness in Edinburgh's handling that cost them dear against a side that will surely be contending for the title this year.

Things started off well for Edinburgh, though, with Paterson knocking over a penalty with barely a minute on the clock.  Munster roared back immediately.  Not for the last time, they won Edinburgh's lineout ball after the restart and worked the ball up the right wing.  The ball was spun quickly left for Earls to take a difficult ball quite beautifully, the impressive winger nipping over for the opening try, goaled by O'Gara.

Munster were looking ominous playing with the wind.  After O'Gara had missed a straightforward penalty on eight minutes, it took a great save by Blair to deny the visitors their second touchdown, then Howlett came close on the right.

With their lineout struggling, Edinburgh could not take advantage of some decent field position.  But a quick tap on 16 minutes saw the ball fired right and Paterson just bundled into touch several metres from the Munster line.  As the first quarter came to an end, Paterson notched another penalty to keep Edinburgh in touch.

Munster's handling continued to impress, though, and some superb interplay saw No 8 Wallace over in the corner for a second well-worked try, O'Gara nailing the difficult conversion. The Irish playmaker exchanged penalties with Paterson to make the half-time score 17-9 Munster - a score that was as well deserved as Horan's yellow card on 37 minutes for a cynical ruck offence with Edinburgh pressing.

Munster survived the power play with little difficulty, resuming the attack after the break.  Although Edinburgh clearly had an edge in the scrummage - indeed just about had parity in that aspect of the game throughout - they could not make the advantage count.

On 48 minutes, and with referee Jones playing advantage for a Munster offside in their own 22, a Godman chip in goal bounced wickedly upwards.  Howlett misjudged it, de Luca did not.  The snake-hipped centre grabbed the ball and headed groundwards.  It looked like the ball might just have slipped from his grasp before he applied downward pressure; that seemed to be the video official's view as the try was disallowed.  No advantage had been secured, but Paterson missed the penalty.  It would be overstating the case to say that was the turning point, as Munster were already the superior outfit.  But a converted try would have narrowed the gap to only a point.

As it was, O'Gara soon scored another penalty at the other end, to put Munster 20-9 up with half an hour to play.

Paterson gave the home side hope on 55 minutes with his fourth penalty.  But Munster tightened their gameplan in the final quarter in order to run the clock down.  They spent much of the time camped in Edinburgh's 22.  Although the capital men defended well, they just could not break out.  Until the 73rd minute, that is.

Godman put Dave "DC" Callam through a hole and the big man powered deep into the Munster 22.  In retrospect, perhaps he would have been better off going for the line, rather than looking for support, as his pass did not go to hand.  From the resulting scrummage, Munster's front row were suspiciously keen to collapse and referee Jones pinged them for the third effort. With the clock ticking down, skipper Blair rightly decided to go for goal.  Paterson's fifth penalty duly went over to secure the bonus point.

Suddenly, a match that had seemed to be subsiding to a close became very interesting.  A converted try would win the match for Edinburgh.  Yet although they had a number of phases in the Munster 22, they just could not break through, Munster emerging deserved victors. 

So not a great start, but there are some positives.  Next up - Leinster in Dublin.  It doesn't get any easier.

CHRIS HOY-RELATED FASCINATING FACT OF THE WEEK: Chris holds the Commonwealth, Olympic and World (sea level) one kilometre records.

MAN OF THE MATCH: MIKE BLAIR


SCORERS:

Edinburgh: Paterson 5P

Munster: O'Gara 2C, 2P, Earls 1T, Wallace 1T

Edinburgh: Hugo, Paterson, MacRae, De Luca, Robertson, Godman, M. Blair, Jacobsen, Ford, G. Cross, C. Hamilton, Gissing, Mustchin, MacDonald, Hogg.

Munster: Howlett, Earls, Mafi, Tipoki, Dowling, O'Gara, O'Leary, Horan, Flannery, Pucciariello, O'Callaghan, O'Connell, D. Ryan, O'Sullivan, Wallace.

Attendance: 5,443

Ref: Jones (WRFU).