BY SABENA MOYLAN
As Thomond Park unusually basks in what feels like Summer sunshine there is a hint of excitement in the air. The opening weekend of the PRO14 is always an exciting weekend in every Rugby fans calendar.
Rugby has returned and the PRO14 has returned with a bang. The man on everyone’s mind today is number 22 Joey Carberry. Johan van Graan choosing Carberry on the bench for his debut game at Thomond Park.
The Cheetahs living up to their name start the game fast out of the starting traps and are quick to get a penalty after three minutes that was unsuccessful by Schoeman.
After what seems like a little kick about Munster get fire in their belly and are attacking the Cheetahs head on. Munster awarded a scrum at 7 mins to have it collapsed by the opposing side. Munster still attacking ferociously but unable to get past the 22.
At 9 mins the Cheetahs penalised once again for collapsing the scrum Munster kick into touch but once again are not gaining any momentum. 11 mins in Munster are finally past the 22 with some fancy footwork by Munster’s number 15 Mike Haley. This proved unsatisfactory as Munster are penalised and the Cheetahs kick into touch winning the line out.
Stoppage of play at 13 mins for what looks like a nasty knee injury to the number 7 for the Cheetahs Oupa Mohoje, he is replaced by number 20 Aidon Davis. Game restarts and within one minute of play after a pretty good pass by Darren Sweetman. Rory Scannell is over the line for the first try of the game at 16 minutes of play. Conversion missed by Munster’s number 10 JJ Hanrahan. The score Munster 5 Cheetahs 0.
20 mins of play Cheetahs awarded another line out and are on the attack the attack swiftly ended by a knock on. Some mistakes made by the Cheetahs are going Munster’s way and Mike Haley showing his true skill and style of play to the home crowd. Darren Sweetman is swiftly on the attack only to be held up by two of the oppositions players, very unlucky to not get it over for a try.
At 28 mins Munster are once again awarded another scrum in their own 22 that has them on the attack straight towards the Cheetahs line. John Ryan makes gains but is held up just before the line. Lineout awarded which Munster win, when it seems Munster have scored another try Referee Dan Jones calls for TMO. Try is clear and obvious scored by David Kilcoyne and converted by JJ Hanrahan. Munster lead 12-0 at 32 minutes.
35 mins Some poor passing and simple mistakes are costing Munster their momentum and results in a scrum being awarded to the Cheetahs. Cheetahs win their scrum and make a high intensity run at the Munster 22. Results in no score for the Cheetahs but an impressive run nonetheless.
Heat and sun seem to have subsided for the second half but that hasn’t stopped both teams raring to go. 43 minutes in Malcolm Jaer number 15 for the Cheetahs makes a bolt towards Munster’s try line. This is after an impressive run from their number 14 Rabz Maxwane. Munster extremely lucky to get out of jail after such an impressive attack by the opposition.
48 mins Munster awarded a penalty for another knock on by the Cheetahs kicked into touch for a Munster line out. This results in some excellent skills by Munster but poor passing results in Munster not getting over the line once again. Mike Sherry is replaced at 50 mins by Rhys Marshall. 51 mins of play gone and the home crowd are shouting to see the debutante Joey Carberry make an appearance. After what seemed like the Cheetahs safely cleared their line some quick hands by Tommy O Donnell made it another try for Munster conversion missed by JJ Hanrahan.
54 mins in the star from the east Joey Carberry makes his appearance to a standing ovation and a roar from the Munster crowd. A good warm Munster welcome for the Leinster man. I think that quenches any doubt about his welcome on the famous Thomond soil. I had no doubt it would be any other way.
59 mins gone official attendance 12, 265. Munster making a quick attack on the Cheetahs try line to have it quickly cleared. Munster keep on chipping away with the attack but the opposition are not rolling over easily. Van Graan is starting to clear the bench at 62 mins with Tommy O Donnell and Dave Kilcoyne getting a standing ovation for their performance in today’s game.
64 mins the atmosphere has died down and what seems like a try by Munster’s Billy Holland the young referee Dan Jones calls for the TMO. After deliberation, no try was awarded much to the home crowds dismay.
66 mins gone JJ Hanrahan scores an excellent try out of nowhere and coverts it aswell to make it 24-0 to Munster.
70 mins of play and the Cheetahs seem to be tiring another try by Munster by Munster’s number 6 Dave O Callaghan converted by JJ Hanrahan. Munster 31- Cheetahs 0
72 mins gone the mighty Darren Sweetman intercepts a pass from near the halfway line with JJ Hanrahan putting the ball between the posts to make it 38-0 to Munster. Cheetahs are really fading quite quickly and are unable to keep up with Munster’s intensity.
76 mins The Cheetahs trying desperately to keep up with play and Munster away from their 22. Munster are over the oppositions 22 slowly being kept at bay from a tired Cheetahs side. Poor
passing by the Cheetahs defence to clear their line results in a 5 metre scrum to Munster.
78 mins At what can only be described as one of his best games in the Munster jersey Darren Sweetman is awarded the Man of the Match award met with a huge round of applause by the crowd in Thomond Park today.
80 mins gone on the clock the 5 metre scrum is still being formed under the watchful eye of the Welsh referee Dan Jones. Cheetahs knock it on Dan Jones blows it up for a Munster home victory.
What can only be described as a phenomenal result for Munster Rugby in their PRO14 opener on home soil. The result did not however reflect on how hard it was for Munster at times with the Cheetahs really showing their competitive edge. It has heightened to the excitement of what this side can achieve this season under Johan Van Graan. With a big game against Glasgow on Friday night Munster will need to up their intensity, improve on passing errors and bring their “A” game to the forefront. First game of the season down and a great win in the bag for Munster. Johan Van Graan said in his post match interview. “It starts from zero on Monday” and no truer statement for a big week ahead.