Munster overcome brave Scarlets

Munster 19 Llanelli Scarlets 13
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The Independent Online

Irish heavyweights Munster showed no mercy for an injury-plagued Llanelli Scarlets as they powered to a hard-fought victory at Thomond Park last night.

Irish heavyweights Munster showed no mercy for an injury-plagued Llanelli Scarlets as they powered to a hard-fought victory at Thomond Park last night.

The two teams - traditionally among the best in Europe in the past five years - had both suffered poor starts to the season, but it was the home side who found the higher gear first.

Starting from a lineout 30 metres from the Scarlets' line, the home forwards drove relentlessly towards five points, and although original ball-carrier Frankie Sheahan looked to have left and then illegally rejoined the driving maul, referee Malcolm Changleng had no hesitation in raising his arm when Alan Quinlan grounded the ball.

Things looked desperate for the visitors when John Davies was yellow-carded for persistent infringements at scrum-time, but Simon Easterby's men decided attack was the best form of defence and bravely pressed for an equaliser.

Munster extended their lead in the 50th minute. Powell's hit on lock Paul O'Connell infuriated the Munster players and they powered on to the attack. Winger Anthony Horgan showed strength to go close and he slipped the ball to Christian Cullen for the easiest of scores.

A Cullen break gave backrower Denis Leamy an equally simple try in the 66th minute, but the Scarlets refused to lie down and a Tal Selley burst gave fullback Garan Evans the space to dive over in the corner.

The Scarlets made things interesting with a try from makeshift winger Mike Phillips, and although they ran out of time to close the gap, the well-taken five-pointer gave them a bonus point for finishing within seven points of the winners.

Munster: Tries Quinlan, Cullen, Leamy; Conversions O'Gara 2 Scarlets: Tries Evans, Phillips; Penalties Bowen

Munster: C Cullen; J Kelly, M Mullins, R Henderson (J Storey, 56), A Horgan; R O'Gara, P Stringer; M Horan, F Sheahan, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell (T Hogan, 80), A Quinlan (D Wallace, 62), D Leamy, A Foley.

Scarlets: G Evans; A Havili, M Watkins (D Peel, 18), M Taylor, T Selley; G Bowen (A Thomas, 64), M Phillips; I Thomas, M Rees, J Davies (P John, 66), V Cooper, A Jones (C Wyatt, 50), S Easterby (capt), G Thomas, A Powell (P John, 32-40).

Referee: Malcolm Changleng (Scotland)

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