Date Time Competition Season
6 January 2023 7:35 pm United Rugby Championship 2022/23

Match Report

Lions Mauled In Munster Musgrave Masterclass

Munster have moved into the top 8 of the URC at least for the time being after a bonus point win at Musgrave Park saw them topple the Emirates Lions this evening.

The hosts looked in control and never once looked to be up against it in truth, a dominant showing by the Irish province to see them rise to fifth in the URC table at least for the moment.

Conditions made life difficult for both teams right from the off, Ben Healy’s kick to begin proceedings caught in the breeze allowing Munster the chance to regain possession, they would find it difficult however as the Lions overturned possession twice before pinning Munster back inside their own half.

Discipline again creeping into the Munster game once more, the hosts penalised by referee Hollie Davidson after Shane Daly was caught not rolling away, this gave Jordan Hendrikse a shot at the posts from 40 metres out, difficult conditions for the kicker but he was on target off the tee with some assistance from Morne van den Berg to hold the ball in place and maybe the breeze giving it some extra force on its way, enough to give the Lions an early 3-0 lead after six minutes.

Mike Haley produced a great grubber kick to pin the Lions back, but his opposite number Quan Horn made a massive clearance kick to push Munster back, however some poor discipline at the lineout from the South Africans saw Munster win a penalty, which Healy hit with precision to bring Munster into the visitors 22.

Maul play from lineouts has been huge for Munster this season as their forwards have shown brute strength to push teams back, after nine minutes on Leeside another powerful maul allowed substitute hooker Scott Buckley to touch down from the back. The hooker had found Kendellen at the front of the lineout, and the powerful drive saw Buckley finishing off for his second try for the province, Healy’s conversion was wide as the breeze just seemed to carry it.

Everything including the kitchen sink was thrown by Munster to keep the visitors from touching down inside the opening half hour, sometimes living on a knife edge as to the legality of some of the play they managed to do enough to clear the lines as Shane Daly won a penalty at the breakdown. 

The powerful Lions scrum packed with immense weight was causing a headache for the Munster forwards, John Hodnett strayed offside which allowed another mincing Lions scrum, again penalised and again another scrum before Scott Buckley was penalised, danger territory for Munster either to be shown a card or face a penalty try, but the defence was solid Liam Coombes playing more like his brother in driving the Lions back before they were penalised at the breakdown.

Healy’s kick to touch to give Munster five metres from goal was key to their opening try, another clinical kick to touch proved the catalyst for the second just before the half hour mark, possession now with Munster who worked it well as Paddy Patterson looped a pass wide for John Hodentt as they started to move up the field before being awarded a penalty.

Healy kicked for touch and a chance for a carbon copy of the opening try, the maul this time was stopped dead by the Lions but 18 phases later after some patient attacking play the hosts found their second try as captain Jack O’Donoghue crossed the whitewash following an initial drive by Patterson saw them within inches of the line, Healy nailed the kick for a 12-3 lead after 30 minutes of play.

Shortly after the score the second Munster change looked to be a tactical one to stop the domination at the scrum, Dave Kilcoyne replacing Josh Wycherley. Into the final minutes of the half both tried to gain ground and despite Munster conceding a penalty with minutes left Jean Kelyn stole the ball in the lineout as the clock ticked red Munster opted for touch to lead 12-3 at the interval.

It was the visitors who came firing out the blocks from the restart but it was the hosts who almost had the opening score of the half but Alex Kendellen was held up over the try line allowing the Lions a goal line dropout. Almost casual from the visitors to have allowed Munster break clear from halfway, Mike Haley with a blitzing manoeuvre to gain ground with further carries by Hodnett and Malakai Fekitoa seeing them get closer to the line before being held up.

Pressure remained from the hosts as they kept on attacking shortly after that goal line restart, they got close again but the bulldozer that is Asenathi Ntlabakanye made a big tackle to stop them in their tracks, pressure would count a short while later as Paddy Patterson spotted a gap in an unprotected maul and the scrum half picked and went hitting the afterburners to go under the posts, shades of a move that Peter Stringer would have done in his days in red, Healy’s conversion making it a 16 point game after 50 minutes.

A small lapse in concentration could have punished Munster a short while later, Edwill van der Merwe raced down the touchline, having taken full advantage of a ball rolling out of a ruck, Healy did well to make the tackle to stop the winger getting on the board, but the Munster defence was solid as Kendellen won a penalty at the breakdown.

It was nip and tuck for large parts of the remainder of the second half with Munster really rubber stamping the tie with plenty of possession in the final quarter, they were rewarded with a bonus point try five minutes from time as the returning Liam Coombes evaded the tackled to get over for the try, all coming weak clearance kick that bounced kindly for the winger, a weak tackle attempt opened a gap and he drove clear for the line, almost out of nowhere.

The game was wrapped up but Munster put the icing on top of the cheery on top of the cake as Buckley got his second try of the game, once again off the back of a dominant maul with the last act of the game as Healy's conversion gave them a 30 point winning margin.


15Mike Haley 23 Full-Back
14Shane Daly Winger
13Malakai Fekitoa Centre
12Rory Scannell 22 Centre
11Liam Coombes Winger 75'
10Ben Healy Fly-Half 30', 50', 76', 80'
9Patrick Patterson 21 Scrum-Half 49'
1Josh Wycherley 17 Prop
2Diarmuid Barron 16 Hooker 9'
3Roman Salanoa 18 Prop
4Jean Kleyn 19 Lock
5Gavin Coombes Lock
6Jack O’Donoghue Flanker 28'
7John Hodnett 20 Flanker
8Alex Kendellen No. 8
16Scott Buckley 2 Hooker 9', 80'
17Dave Kilcoyne 1 Prop
18Stephen Archer 3 Prop
19Cian Hurley 4 Lock
20Jack O’Sullivan 7 Flanker
21Conor Murray 9 Scrum-Half
22Dan Goggin 12 Centre
23Patrick Campbell 15 Full-Back

Emirates Lions

15Quan Horn Full-Back
14Stean Pienaar Winger
13Henco van Wyk 23 Centre
12Marius Louw Centre
11Edwill van der Merwe Winger
10Jordan Hendrikse 22 Fly-Half 6'
9Morne van den Berg 21 Scrum-Half
1JP Smith 17 Prop
2PJ Botha 16 Hooker
3Asenathi Ntlabakanye 18 Prop
4Ruan Venter 19 Lock
5Darrien Landsberg Lock
6Jarod Cairns 20 Flanker
7Emile van Heerden Flanker
8Emmanuel Tshituka No. 8
16Michael van Vuuren 2 Hooker
17Morgan Naude 1 Prop
18Ruan Smith 3 Prop
19Willem Alberts 4 Lock
20Sibusiso Sangweni 6 Flanker
21Andre Warner 9 Scrum-Half
22Gianni Lombard 10 Fly-Half
23Manuel Rass 13 Centre

Past Meetings

(Round 7)
23 - 21
United Rugby Championship
Emirates Airline Park

Emirates Lions v Munster


Virgin Media Park
Tramore Rd, Ballyphehane, County Cork, Munster, T12KO39, Ireland

Diarmuid Kearney is a freelance Sports Journalist based in Co Kerry. He has more than 5 years experience covering domestic and international soccer for different media organisations, while also working for local and national print and digital organisations covering GAA.