Munster v Maori All Blacks

Rassie Erasmus's side face up to the challenge of the Maori touring side at Thomond Park

John O'Sullivan Fri, Nov 11
LIVE: Munster v Maori All Blacks

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  • Hello and welcome to the Irish Times rugby blog of Munster's game against the New Zealand Maoris at Thomond Park.

    Hope you're enjoying your Friday night wherever you are. John O'Sullivan here and I'll be keeping you up to date with events in Limerick. It's a sell-out, so it should be a wonderful atmosphere.


  • It's raining in Thomond Park, quite heavily.  
  • For all of you who'd like a bit of a visual on the rain, take a squint at this picture.  
  • Also tonight, the Barbarians are taking on Fiji at the Kingspan stadium. Tommy Bowe starts in the centre and Ruan Pienaar is on the bench for rugby's most famous invitational side.  
  • Here are the teams for the game in Thomond Park.

    MUNSTER:  A Conway; D Sweetnam, J Taute, R Scannell, R O’Mahony; I Keatley, D Williams; J Cronin, N Scannell, S Archer; J Madigan, D O’Shea; T O’Donnell (capt), C Oliver, R Copeland.

    Replacements:  R Marshall, P McCabe, B Scott, S O’Connor, J Foley, Te Aihe Toma, D Goggin, A Wootton.  

    MAORI ALL BLACKS:  M McKenzie; A Curtis, M Proctor, T Bateman, J Lowe; O Black, B Guyton; K Hames, A Dixon (capt), B May; L Price, T Franklin; R Prinsep, S Christie, A Ioane.

    Replacements:  L Apisai, C Eves, M Renata, W Douglas, K Pryor, B Webster, I West, J Emery.

  • Former Munster centre and Maori All Black Rua Tipoki was the guest speaker at the pre-match lunch, seen here being interviewed by another former Munster player, Damian Varley.  
  • Lovely picture of the late Anthony Foley on the front page of the Glasgow Warriors Champions Cup match programme, alongside tonight's offering.  
  • Kickoff is in a little under 20-minutes.  
  • Peter O’Mahony, Keith Earls, Jack O’Donoghue,  Billy Holland, Donnacha Ryan,  Simon Zebo, CJ Stander and Conor Murray are all on Ireland duty while Tyler Bleyendaal has been given the night off.

  • Munster beat the All Blacks 12-0 in 1978, the only male Irish side to do so until the Ireland Under-20’s at the Junior World Championship last June and of course, Ireland last weekend in Chicago, cracked the code.  

  • Very arty from Ulster rugby. Meanwhile back in Thomond Park......
  • Everybody's "a big unit" on the Eir Sport commentary. Sounds like an ad for a furniture store.  
  • There will be plenty of Munster supporters who’ll remember how close the team pushed the All Blacks in 2008, leading 16-13 with four minutes left before succumbing 18-16 to a late Joe Rokocoko try.

  • Switching to Belfast briefly.....
  • Traditional Munster anthem Stand Up and Fight has just reached a crescendo, a very tuneful one.  
  • Did you know that the ejector seat was invented in Belfast. Well now you do.  
  • Windy and very wet in Thomond Park. here come the Maoris.  
  • Maoris to play with the wind.  
  • The Munster team tonight will be wearing the socks of schools or clubs in the province, or those ascribed to them.

    Tommy O'Donnell leads Munster out.  

  • Maoris forming an arrowhead to perform the Haka.  
  • Maori captain Ash Dixon and three of the team walk to the halfway line and presented lay down a Maori jersey with Anthony Foley's initials on it. Warmly appreciated by the crowd and rightly so. Lovely gesture.  
  • Time to start the game.  
  • Anthony Foley's two sons, Tony and Dan, come out to accept the presentation of the Maori jersey
  • Munster receive the kickoff, clear to about eight metres outside the 22, playing into a gale.  
  • Robin Copeland wins a turnover penalty at a ruck.  
  • Munster lineout on the halfway line.  
  • Maoris concede a second penalty at the lineout. Ian Keatley brings play to about 35 metres from the visitors line.  
  • Munster hooker Niall Scannell penalised for a crooked throw. First scrum.  
  • Re-set scrum.  
  • 6 mins: Maori outhalf Otere Black misses with a penalty shot at goal from about 30-metres. Not easy kicking conditions in Limerick tonight.  
  • Munster win a scrum freekick, early engage
  • Keatley with the bomb but O'Donnell with a knock-on. Black with a neat touch finder for the Maoris.  
  • I'm not sure there are many of the Fiji team relishing an hour and twenty in the Belfast rain. Anyway back to Thomond. Touch judge points out a late tackle on Ronan O'Mahoney. Keatley goes to the corner from the Maori 22. Eight metres out.  
  • Munster penalty, Duncan Williams taken by Ash Dixon without the ball. Keatley goes to the corner again.  
  • TRY: Niall Scannell.  
  • 13 mins: Lineout taken by Darren O'Shea, well set maul, nice and long with hooker Niall Scannell at the back. Power comes on with a little help from the backs. Keatley can't add the conversion.

    Munster 5 NZ Maoris 0

  • Really aggressive defence from Munster, Stephen Archer in the van.  
  • Lovely, lovely moment for Anthony Foley's sons Tony and Dan in what are obviously very difficult times.  
  • Great catch and break from Andrew Conway followed by a chip but Conor Oliver penalised for offside at the ensuing ruck seven emtres from the Maoris line.  
  • About four turnovers in possession in the space of 90 seconds; possession a bit of a liability in the conditions.  
  • Darren Sweetnam nailed as he tried to run about 30 metres from their own line, Maoris win a counter-ruck and the visitors into the 22 and then over for a try from wing James Lowe.  
  • TRY: James Lowe. Super offloading in the tackle and two Munster players bought a dummy hook, line and sinker. Otere Black with the conversion.

    Munster 5 NZ Maoris 7  

  • 24 mins: Peter McCabe on for Cronin.
  • TRY: a second try in a minute. Ambrose Curtis.  

    25 mins: Akira Ioane with the break and Curtis finishes off following a superb break from the Maori All Black number eight. Black kicks the conversion from the touchline. Munster kicked away possession and that's the upshot.

    Munster 5 Maoris 14  

  • Otere Black controlling the game nicely from outhalf, pushing Munster back into their 22 and using the gale intelligently.  
  • Potential penalty try for Munster
  • Oliver with a pass between his legs, great feet from Conway, Sweetnam with a gorgeous chip and Rory Scannell taken out as he chases the ball over the Maoris' line. Definitely a penalty try.  
  • PENALTY TRY AND A YELLOW CARD: Prinsep off for a 10-minute rest.

  • 31 mins: Keatley adds the conversion to the penalty try.

    Munster 12 NZ Maoris 14

  • The visitors will play with 14-men for the rest of the half.  
  • Williams nabs his opposite number at a scrum 30 metres from the Munster line and it's a turnover. Munster put-in.  
  • Munster win a scrum penalty. Lineout on the halfway line.  
  • Forward pass, the home side turn over possession.  
  • Black caresses the ball into the Munster 22. Mind you that scrum feed as as crooked as a dog's hind leg. I'm here all night folks.  
  • O'Donnell penalised for not releasing but Munster turn over ball and it's a try for Darren Sweetnam.

    TRY: Sweetnam.

  • 38 mins: Ball goes to ground just inside the Munster half, Sweetnam thumps it down the pitch and then shows tremendous pace to beat his opposite number Lowe in a footrace, controlling the second nudge with his boot, beautifully, and diving on the ball. Brilliant skill.

    Munster 17 NZ Maoris 14

  • Half-time: Munster 17 Maori All Blacks 14
  • Sweetnam with some top notch soccer skills for that try. Munster have displayed a great attitude and commitment in that half. The Maoris haven't helped themselves with some sloppy play but that shouldn't detract from the performance of the home team.
  • Naill Scannell, Archer, Oliver, Keatley, Sweetnam and Conway, standout players for Munster in that half but in truth ever red-shirted player has chipped in.  
  • The Maoris have shown flashes of what they are capable, particularly Akira Ioane. Outhalf Otere Black kicked well but Munster's aggression in defence has forced turnovers in very difficult handling conditions. The home side have been better at scrum time too. They will have the gale in the second half.  
  • Halftime in the Ulster Bank League Division 1A: Lansdowne 17 UCD 3  
  • Munster scored 12 points while Maoris down to 14-men after the yellow card for Reed Prinsep.  
  • Munster number eight Robin Copeland has been super too.  
  • Time for the second half. Does the Pantheon of great Munster victories beckon? We are about to find out.  
  • NZ Maoris assistant coach Tana Umaga:  "We are making a lot orf mistakes and being put under pressure by a very good Munster side. They are beating us to the rucks and putting ourselves under pressure. We have to step up this half."  
  • Under way.  
  • Great break by Copeland but my goodness he should have passed to the unmarked Ronan O'Mahoney who would have run in untouched. Ouch. Huge chance.  
  • Watching a replay of the Copeland super break. I would be late for the video review on Monday if I was the Wexford man. Mind you phenomenal athlete and he did everything right except the one handed offload. Two hands, run straight, draw the last man.
  • Meanwhile in other news, Ian Keatley has kicked a penalty. Maoris penalty for an early engagement, third time, at a scrum.

    43 mins: Keatley penalty.

    Munster 20 NZ Maoris 14

  • Soryy I was mid lecture there as the scrum didn't form.  
  • 46 mins YELLOW CARD:  Munster scrumhalf Duncan Williams. High tackle on James Lowe. No argument. Williams apologises.  
  • Another Maori penalty 15 metres from the Munster line.  
  • Otere Black kicks to the corner. Lineout seven metres out. Crowd get behind Munster.  
  • Brilliant counter drive from the Munster eight at the maul and they force a handling error.    
  • Great counter-attack from a quick throw by the Maoris, Lowe with the initial break but Ioane bundled into touch inside the Munster 22 by Sweetnam and Conway. Good covering.  
  • Another handling error from the visitors but Keatley playing scrumhalf kicks a Garryowen but it travelled too far. Munster penalised but Black doesn't find touch. Play goes on, Conway with a wonderful take from a high ball and then Rory Scannell with a glorious diagonal punt to within five metres of the Maoris line.  
  • Remember, because I need to, Munster are down to 14 players at the moment with Williams in the sin bin. They have a lineout on the Maoris 22.

    Ireland Under-20 international Sean O'Connor on for Madigan.  

  • So much good work from Munster, pick and jam eight times but then running out of wind, they allow a counter-ruck and are penalised eight metres from the Maoris' line. A pity for the home side.  
  • Williams is back on at scrumhalf.  
  • Munster nick the lineout.
  • Great chance for Munster down the shorrt side from a ruck but Jaco Taute probably should have passed and the Maoris turn over the ruck ball.  
  • Darren O'Shea with the previous lineout steal.  
  • Munster are getting just a little narrow. They need to go wider and use the footwork of Conway and Sweetnam.
  • Ronan O'Mahony gets over the Maoris line.  
  • Referee: asks is there any reason why I can't award the try. Answer to that is no watching the replays.  
  • Referee is deciding now that he hasn't released the ball and it is a double movement. NO TRY. PENALTY to Maoris. Referee: "Initial grounding short. Has to reach out or let it go. Not allowed to go again."  
  • Maoris fullback Marty McKenzie just doesn't want to be out there. That's his 55th error, a knock-on.  
  • And with that McKenzie disappears, Emery on.  
  • 60 mins: Change for Munster Rhys Marshall on for Niall Scannell.  
  • That's brilliant from Munster, superb carrying and then a super chip from Keatley. Lowe beats O'Mahony and Conway to the ball in the in-goal area. Scrum five Munster.  
  • Huge chance for Munster to take a firm grip on this match.  
  • Maoris penalised for early shove.  
  • Keatley goes to the corner. Match defining moment one suspects as they'd say in a 1920s novella.  
  • Ioane comes up with the ball and the visitors win a penalty.  

    Munster lead 20-14 with 17-minutes left.  

  • UBL Division 1A: Lansdowne 45 UCD 10. Bonus point win for Mike Ruddock's side.  
  • Munster have made a mess of the Maoris lineout tonight but Keatley just overcooks chip. Fantastic take from Conway under high ball and he wins a penalty.  
  • Munster have a lineout outside the Maoris 22.  
  • 68 mins: Ronan O'Mahony wins the footrace following a visionary chip from Williams on the Maoris 22. Teams gave each other the ball in the preceding 90 seconds but when the moment came Duncan Williams made a great decision and it was matched by the execution. Keatley kicks a superb conversion.

    Munster 27 Maoris 14

  • Three guesses for which anthem is ringing around Thomond Park......yep the Fields of Athenry.  
  • Brilliant from Copeland. Turnover and carry out of defence. Penalty Munster
  • There are nine minutes left. Archer has been replaced by Brian Scott, and the former gets a deserved ovation.  
  • The best spell of play from the Maoris in the entire game and Munster scramble brilliantly in defence. Copeland forces the turnover. He's been phenomenal.  
  • 75 mins: Munster thoroughly deserve this victory. Conditions have been difficult but the attitude, character, and several passages of high quality rugby have underpinned a magnificent win. The Maoris have been ragged but they simply haven't been able to cope with the intensity of their opponents.    
  • What a wonderful night for Munster rugby. There is so much to admire in this performance. Missing their Ireland contingent and they still produce a performance of this magnitude.

    Copeland deservedly gets the man-of-the-match for a stellar display.

  • Fittingly it is Munster captain Tommy O'Donnell that hoofs the ball off the pitch after yet another turnover.  
  • The Munster team are being serenaded by a packed Thomond Park. Those 23-players deserve every moment to savour that triumph.  
  • There were a number of exceptional performances but on the night the bouquets should go collectively to the squad and management.  

    They turned up, fronted up and played with a spirit and commitment in horrible conditions that made the visitors blink.  

  • There have been many great nights in Thomond Park and this young Munster side's display will be admitted to the Pantheon dedicated to the humbling of the great and the good.  
  • The back three of Conway, Sweetnam and O'Mahony were superb, Rory Scannell and Jaco Taute immoveable objects in defence, while some of Keatley's game management was top class. Williams was no less effective and harried his opposite number to distraction.

    Academy prop Peter McCabe did a great job after his early introduction, Niall Scannell and Stephen Archer immense in defence. Darren O'Shea caused so many problems for the visitors out of touch as did John Madigan while the backrow was oustanding.

  • Man of the match Robin Copeland.  "Over the moon, little tired, little sore. Those fans are out of this world. To go out and put in a performance with the young guys was some achievement. We wanted to get stuck into them early and we did that. The lads were incredible. Tonight I really wanted to put it in for the fans and the jersey."    
  • Copeland was brilliant, so too academy prospect, the former Blackrock schoolboy Conor Oliver and captain Tommy O'Donnell. Munster were terrier like without the ball while also producing the real moments of rugby clarity.  
  • Conditions dictated a certain type of game and while there were hundreds of handling errors but that won't and shouldn't detract from Munster's victory. The visitors managed to play fitfully and only number eight Ioane and wings Lowe and Curtis offered glimpses of their rugby provenance.  
  • Tommy O'Donnell, Munster captain: "It was incredible. They dug in for 80-minutes. Fair play to the fans for coming out and standing in that weather. As long as we keep putting in these performances the fans will turn up. We are well used to a wet ball. We hounded and hassled and stuck with it for the 80-minutes. A couple of academy players came in and really put their hands up."  
  • Many thanks for your company tonight. Hopefully the Ireland team will kick on again against Canada tomorrow at the Aviva stadium. Munster's tyros showed them the way tonight.  

    Gavin Cummiskey's match report will be here presently.