Munster Rugby 52-21 Warriors
Irish Independent Park
WARRIORS rounded off their pre-season campaign with a heavy defeat to Guinness PRO12 giants Munster on Friday.
Four first-half tries saw the Irish province hold a 31-0 lead at the break before both sides ran in three tries apiece in the second-half in an entertaining game at Irish Independent Park in Cork.
After 17 seasons with the Irish province, Warriors lock Donncha O’Callaghan made his first return to his hometown club as Sixways head coach Carl Hogg went in search for a first pre-season win.
The visitors came out the blocks and spent the early exchanges camped inside the Munster 22, but the hosts soon found their rhythm and after Niall Scannell stole the ball off the back of a lineout, tighthead James Cronin shoved his way over for the opening try.
Carl Kirwan took a knock in the build-up and was replaced by Marco Mama, before Tyler Bleyendaal added the conversion.
Warriors searched for a reply and they almost got it when a deft kick from Max Stelling in behind the defence was collected by Dean Hammond, but the young South African was hauled out of play in the corner.
Munster then marched their way upfield where Bleyendaal slotted another penalty.
There was a further setback for Warriors when Val Rapava Ruskin was sent to the bin for pulling down the maul and Munster took full advantage with a penalty try, which was converted by Bleyendaal.
The hosts continued to put pressure on as Ireland international Simon Zebo twisted and turned his way over the line, before the pin-point kicking of Bleyendaal resumed from the tee.
The fly-half was enjoying a fine display and his chip over the Worcester defence was claimed by Zebo, who quickly threw the ball out wide across the backs to Darren Sweetnam, who touched down to stretch the lead to 29-0.
Bleyendaal maintained his 100 per cent record with the boot, adding another conversion to put a 30-point margin between the teams going into the break.
Both sides rung the replacements in the second period to give players game-time ahead of this weekend’s domestic season-openers, but it was the hosts who again found the whitewash as Ronan O’Mahony battled his way over for Munster’s fifth try.
Warriors finally got off the mark on the hour of play, after a good spell and an impressive kick in behind from Ryan Lamb saw Josh Adams dot down in the corner, with the former slotting the conversion in off the post from out wide.
Conor Oliver then produced a break to set up Cian Bohane for another Munster score, but Warriors replied immediately as Lamb found GJ Van Velze who dived over out wide.
Fly-half Lamb produced another kick in off the post, but the end-to-end action continued with an interception try by the hosts’ Ian Keatley, who ran the length of the field to score with eight minutes left to play.
Despite the game being long out of site, it was the visitors who had the last say when Perry Humphreys dived over to score following a sweeping move from the backs.
Lamb successfully kicked the conversion to end the match.
Warriors end their pre-season campaign with three successive defeats, but the real test comes this Saturday in the Aviva Premiership’s curtain-raiser at Twickenham, where Carl Hogg’s side play English and European champions Saracens at 2pm.