Munster 36-22 Gloucester: Danny Cipriani sees red as Munster record Champions Cup win
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 21/10/18 12:01am
A 29th-minute red card to Gloucester's Danny Cipriani saw Munster pull away to a bonus-point 36-22 Champions Cup Pool 2 victory at Thomond Park on Saturday.
Munster full-back Mike Haley - making his home European debut - scored the first try of the day, with Rhys Marshall, Joey Carbery, Sam Arnold and Andrew Conway also touching down for the home side.
Gloucester still registered three tries despite being reduced to 14 men for the majority of the game - all coming in the final 20 minutes - through Gerbrandt Grobler, Jason Woodward and Ben Morgan.
The visitors couldn't score again though to come away with an unlikely two points, despite the fact Munster had two men sin-binned in Arnold and Stephen Archer in the closing minutes.
Munster began inauspiciously, as they let the very first kick off of the game bounce - losing possession - and lost their first two lineouts of the game as hooker Marshall overthrew.
Indeed it was Gloucester who had the first meaningful chance on 15 minutes as Munster continued to surrender possession, and after the away side kicked to the corner their powerful rolling maul was rather cynically collapsed by CJ Stander.
Gloucester played the advantage and failed to make use of the space they had created out wide before referee Alexandre Ruiz went back for the penalty and the away side chose to kick to touch once more.
Their maul was legally stopped on this occasion by Munster, while Tadhg Beirne produced a magnificent breakdown steal soon after five metres from his own tryline to end the attack.
From there, things only went downhill for Gloucester. Firstly, lock Tom Savage was sin-binned for a no-arms clean on Munster centre Dan Goggin. The point of contact proved inconclusive on review - whether neck or head - and so the referee brandished just a yellow card.
While Savage was on the sidelines, Munster scored the first try of the day as their pack brought Gloucester through the phases centrally before springing the ball wide on the openside where Darren Sweetnam, Conway and Haley combined with precision to finish well in the corner.
Three minutes later Gloucester got on the scoreboard as Cipriani struck a fine penalty from distance after Munster skipper Peter O'Mahony infringed at the ruck.
Near the half-hour mark, however, the fixture was completely turned on its head as Cipriani received a straight red card for a shot to the head.
The Gloucester playmaker put in a no-arms tackle on Munster centre Rory Scannell and connected with the inside-centre's face, leaving referee Ruiz no choice but to brandish a red card.
Five minutes from the break, Munster struck for their second try after a Billy Twelvetrees high tackle on Carbery - the Gloucester man perhaps lucky to avoid a card himself - saw Munster kick to the corner and produce a powerful rolling maul which could not be stopped with hooker Marshall at the back of it.
Munster began the second half in determined vain and 10 minutes into it notched their third try of the game through out-half Carbery. After two scrum penalties, Munster played towards the left flank at terrific pace and Carbery jinked through to dive by the posts.
Replacement centre Arnold scored the vital bonus-point score on 56 minutes, in a move that had its origins in Munster's oppressive defence, an Arnold turnover and two remarkable pieces of skill from Haley and Carbery - Haley offloading out of the tackle and Carbery flicking a sumptuous pass behind his back.
Gloucester were next to score as second row Gerbrandt Grobler - making a return to his old club having played for Munster last season - scored from close range after a series of Gloucester attacks, with Munster guilty of a succession of offside penalties.
Munster soon looked to have killed off any hope Gloucester had of a losing bonus-point as they went straight back down to the other end, produced superbly quick ruck ball before Carbery fed Conway with a lovely pull-back pass.
Gloucester did score in the next attack of the game through Woodward in the corner, and soon pressed again with Arnold yellow carded for an intentional knock on.
Morgan scored their third with Arnold off the pitch, handing Gloucester a shot to potentially come away with two points - one losing bonus and one try-bonus.
Munster tighthead Stephen Archer was sin-binned from the kick off for a high tackle, reducing the home side to 13 men, but Gloucester couldn't score again in a pulsating climax.