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NO FEAR

Edinburgh: 9 (9) Munster: 35 (16)



Creamed by Cardiff, lamped by Llanelli, and now monstered by Munster.  The recent spell of summer weather has clearly persuaded the Edinburgh squad that we are already in the off season.  As a result, their mental application is less than total, and they look incapable of avoiding a fourth abject defeat when they travel to Ravenhill next week.

Tonight, Munster were briskly efficient in everything they did.  Their pack dominated the exchanges in the tight, while half backs O'Gara and the impressive O'Leary had an armchair ride.  As a result, the visiting 10 delivered a near perfect placekicking display and, rather more surprisingly, the Munster outside backs saw a fair bit of ball.  While Munster ball at the breakdown was quick, Edinburgh's was painfully slow, and the Munster maul was at the heart of much of their incisive spells.

It was not as if the home side had no possession, and no opportunities.  They had plenty of both; indeed, after the opening quarter, Edinburgh had a distinct territorial advantage.  But it was desperately poor decision-making and unforced errors that were the difference in this game.

A surprisingly large crowd saw Munster take control from the off.  With six minutes on the clock, their maul was sailing goalwards when Edinburgh clearly took it down a couple of metres out.  Referee Fear, who didn't take any nonsense from no-one all night, nipped under the posts to award a penalty try.  It was difficult to argue, and will not have improved the Edinburgh mindset.

Two minuites later, we saw a classic illustration of what has been going wrong for Edinburgh in recent months.  Andy "Ned" Kelly made a superb break from half way.  The hooker steamed up the left wing, then arced into the 22.  Sadly, his colleagues had not had the gumption to realise that he might need some support at some point and were ambling thirty yards behind him.  Inevitably, he was outcumbered and nailed; Munster driving subsequent attackers back to the ten metre line.

Clever play from Simon Webster on 13 minutes saw the winger chip and collect to set up some useful attacking phases.  But slow ruck clearances saw Edinburgh emerge with only a Godman penalty.  The first five-eighth's excellent vision from the restart put Cairns away on a great run, only a poor chip ahead denying the youngster a try.  But Godman clawed another three points back with a penalty on 17 minutes.

Sadly, O'Gara put the Munstermen back to four ahead with a penalty from the restart, before O'Connell was harshly carded for a ruck offence.  Edinburgh could not take advantage of the power play.  First, full-back Carney, chasing a foprtuitous fly hack comically knocked on in the Edinburgh in-goal area when a try seemed certain; then O'Gara knocked over another penalty.

A great clearance and chase by Lucio "Big Hit" Lopez Fleming, the Pampas Predator, forced the hapless Carney to hold on in the tackle, Godman nailing the penalty.  Edinburgh were now looking the more dangerous side, with Cairns and full-back Big Hit looking eager.  But then Taylor was carded at an attacking ruck and, on the stroke of half time, O'Gara knocked over his third penalty of the game.
 
Apparently, there is a rumour that Brian Carney may be fast tracked into the Irish national side for the World Cup.  Given that Eddie O'Sullivan is still not exactly flavour of the month on this side of the water, one would encourage him to do exactly that. The guy did not impress, to put it mildly, tonight.  He started the second half chasing a superb O'Gara garryowen into the Edinburgh 22.  With a height advantage over Big Hit - who doesn't? - he should have been favourite to beat the Argentine to the ball.  Instead, he lined up the tiny full-back and decked him well before the ball had arrived.  He deserved the card for stupidity alone, let alone foul play.

Although Munster had the edge in the game, and always seemed able to keep their noses in front, the outcome was not a foregone conclusion.  Rob Dewey changed that on 47 minutes with a foolish pass to no-one when under pressure in his own 22.  Munster gained possession and eventually O'Connell drove over for the try that opened the floodgates.  Ten minutes later, borderline obstruction sprung Quinlan for their third try and the game was over.  Most entertainment came from Referee Fear's injury travails, which eventually saw the Welshman retiring from the fray, to be replaced by the 76th official.

While Edinburgh battled gamely enough, they did not have the power to break through a resolute visiting defence.  Even the appearance of Ali Dickinson did little to shore up a shaky scrummage, and it was from an utter guddle at the back of a scrum that replacement Fogarty rumbled over for an easy bonus point try, O'Gara for once failing with the conversion.

The game ended appropriately.  A great Cairns break in traffic looked threatening, but an Edinburgh pass went to Munster hands, and the danger was cleared.

It's all a bit depressing.

Scorers:

Edinburgh: Pens: Godman (3)

Munster: Tries: Penalty, O'Connell, Quinlan, Fogarty. Cons: O'Gara (3). Pen: O'Gara (3)

Edinburgh: L Lopez Fleming, R Dewey, B Cairns, M Dey, S Webster R Rennie 71) , P Godman (D Hodge 46), G Laidlaw (J Senio 64), A Jacobsen, A Kelly (D Hall 59), G Cross (A Dickinson 40), A Strokosch (F Pringle 56), S Murray, S Taylor, A Macdonald (S Cross 64), A Hogg

Munster: B Carney, A Horgan, B Murphy, L Mafi, I Dowling, R O'Gara, T O'Leary (B O'Meara 76), F Pucciarello (F Roche 76), F Sheahan (D Fogarty 69), T Buckley, M O'Driscoll, P O'Connell, A Quinlan, J O'Sullivan (D Wallace 40), A Foley (D Leamy 61)

Referee: Fear (WRU)