Gloucester 15-41 Munster: Irish Province earn dominant Champions Cup win
By Michael Cantillon at Kingsholm
Last Updated: 11/01/19 10:17pm
A magnificent Champions Cup display from Munster on the road got their European season back on track as they racked up a bonus-point 41-15 success over Gloucester at a chilly Kingsholm on Friday night.
The Irish province had been under pressure heading to England, having lost their Round 4 encounter at Castres, but tries through Joey Carbery (two), Rory Scannell, Keith Earls and Andrew Conway secured an emphatic success.
Ireland out-half Carbery posted a 100 per cent kicking display in a 26-point man of the match performance.
Ollie Thorley and Fraser Balmain registered tries for Gloucester, but the home side couldn't live with Munster's power both in defence and attack.
The Premiership outfit's Champions Cup campaign is now over for another year ahead of their clash away at Castres next week, while Munster will host Exeter Chiefs at Thomond Park in what could prove a pool decider.
Gloucester started on the front foot from the very first moment as a monumental Gerbrandt Grobler take from Danny Cipriani's kick off eventually earned the home side a penalty when Chris Farrell was penalised for failing to release at an ensuing ruck.
Ben Morgan and co turned down the chance to go for points off the tee for a kick to the corner and five-metre lineout opportunity, but Munster defended the consequent maul strongly to earn the turnover. A powerful scrum drive and resultant penalty for the Irish side completed the exit.
A lively first 10 minutes saw both sides guilty of making errors - perhaps aware of the magnitude of tonight's clash with regard to their European seasons - but it was Gloucester who hit the front via the boot of Billy Twelvetrees from distance when Tadhg Beirne was pinged for failing to roll away.
Munster levelled the contest four minutes later through the boot of Carbery after Lewis Ludlow played the ball in an offside position, however, and would not fall behind again for the rest of the fixture.
Another scrum penalty was awarded to the visitors near halfway in the 22nd minute, and two minutes later Munster were over for the first try of the day through playmaker Carbery.
The left boot of Rory Scannell placed Munster inside the 22, before the likes of CJ Stander, Dave Kilcoyne, Conor Murray and Farrell in particular carried strongly and maintained momentum. A deep left-hand pass from Murray then gave his halfback partner the space required to dive over.
Beirne earned a trademark breakdown penalty minutes after the restart, and when skipper Peter O'Mahony pointed to the sticks, Carbery duly obliged from 45 metres with a crisp strike as the away side started to take control of the scoreboard.
And almost four minutes into dead time of the first half, Johan van Graan's men got over for their second try when they showed exceptional control through 27 phases of possession before centre Scannell burst through the line, bounced past Charlie Sharples and dodged the despairing efforts of Ed Slater and Callum Braley to touch down.
Munster started the second half poorly as Carbery's kick off failed to travel the requisite 10 metres and the home side earned a dominant scrum penalty of their own straight after.
Cipriani produced a wonderful kick to the corner but Munster's defence was oppressive, forcing the Gloucester line back before three more penalties followed from Farrell, O'Mahony and Murray, with referee Romain Poite warning the away side about their discipline.
Munster lost O'Mahony minutes later to injury before Gloucester notched their first try of the day through wing Thorley after an extraordinary passage of 35 phases in the Munster 22.
Munster responded immediately though, when clever work from Murray in the Gloucester 22 earned field position, before punchy carries from Stander and Jean Kleyn set the platform for Earls to score out wide after a sumptuous Billy Holland offload.
Conway thought he'd notched the bonus-point try with 20 minutes left after kicking ahead a Farrell offload, outpacing Gloucester full-back Tom Hudson and grounding, but on review with the TMO the score was ruled out for a forward pass.
Instead, Gloucester would score next on 64 minutes - again after a multi-phase close range attack - when tighthead Balmain barrelled over.
Munster's Conway was not to be denied a try on the evening as Munster hit straight back again in a ding-dong half when Carbery slid through an exquisite left foot kick and the right wing showed phenomenal pace to get there first and dive over.
Seconds after the restart, Munster had a fifth try to rack up over 40 points when Carbery - capping a sensational individual display - intercepted a Morgan pass to sprint in untouched from his own half for the final points of the night.