Edinburgh resolute as they go toe-to-toe with Munster

Fraser McKenzie, left, and Greig Tonks celebrate. Tom Heathcote kicked three penalties, below. Pictures: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Fraser McKenzie, left, and Greig Tonks celebrate. Tom Heathcote kicked three penalties, below. Pictures: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
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Edinburgh stunned Munster with Jack Cuthbert’s 49th minute try and three penalties form debutant Tom Heathcote.

Ian Keatley had the chance to win it for Munster with the last kick of the game but his penalty from long range slid inches past the post.

The victory could have come at a cost though as Edinburgh’s flying winger Tim Visser limped off late on with what appeared to be a leg injury.

Cuthbert’s try gave Edinbugh a nine-point lead, which was eventually cut back to one point, but they held on with a spirited defensive display.

“Yes I’m very, very happy,” said coach Alan Solomons. “I think we worked hard for the win and it wasn’t easy because we had two yellow cards.

“For a quarter of the game we were down to 14 men and for a couple of minutes we were down to 13 men. We showed good composure and I thought we deserved the win at the end.

“We defended outstandingly. We had a couple of tries that went begging and another one when Hamish Watson got close.”

Edinburgh struck the first blow in the third minute, a penalty earned from a Munster scrum 30 meters from the home try line. A powerful shove knocked Munster off the ball as Kevin O’Byrne tried to hook and eventually the pressure told and referee Leighton Hodges awarded Edinburgh the penalty, which Heathcote slotted from the left hand side.

Heathcote doubled that lead four minutes later when Munster prop John Ryan was penalised for being offside, but Solomons would have been thrilled with the way the move was built: Andries Strauss robbed the ball deep in his own half, before Fraser McKenzie and Cuthbert made incisive breaks. The lead looked to have been ally added to in the 13th minute when another excellent turnover – this time from Tomas Leonardi – sent Edinburgh on the attack against a lopsided Munster defence. Heathcote sent Dougie Fife flying down the right touch line and in for the try, only for the celebrations to be cut short because of a marginal forward pass.

Eight minutes from the break it was Edinburgh’s turn to breathe a sigh of relief after Leonardi escaped with just a yellow card following a tip tackle on Simon Zebo.

The one-man advantage certainly lifted Munster after Hamish Watson conceded a penalty on the ground, Keatley pinned the visitors back in their own 22. Once again Munster went for the maul with the line within touching distance, and after they were stopped short, CJ Stander could not be halted from a yard – despite the best efforts of Sam Beard and Strauss. Keatley missed the straightforward conversion from the left as Edinburgh retained the lead at 6-5, but on the cusp on half-time they pulled further clear when Donncha O’Callaghan failed to roll away from the tackle. Heathcote made no mistake with the kick from the right.

Two minutes after the restart Edinburgh were briefly reduced to 13 men when Watson failed to roll away from the tackle. Munster were awarded the penalty a few yards from the line, but after consulting with his assistants Hodges reversed the call for use of the boot by the home side.

Leonardi returned to the fold soon after, but Edinburgh were still down to 14 men when they struck for the crucial score in the 49th minute. A knock-on from Duncan gave Edinburgh possession, and after Visser linked with Beard, the centre’s chip through bounced up kindly for Cuthbert, who dived across the line for his sixth league try.

Heathcote failed to slot the conversion and Munster closed the deficit to four points on the hour mark, when Stander barrelled over for his second try.

A Keatley penalty 12 minutes from time cut the Edinburgh lead to one point and Visser limped off injury four minutes from the final whistle.

Scorers: Munster: Tries - CJ Stander 2; Pen - I Keatley. Edinburgh: Try - J Cuthbert; Pens - T Heathcote.

Munster: R O’Mahony (I Dineen h-t); A Conway, J Murphy, A Smith, S Zebo; I Keatley, D (C Sheridan 72); J Ryan, K O’Byrne (D Casey 47), BJ Botha (S Archer 76); D O’Callaghan (capt) (D Foley 52), B Holland, CJ Stander, S Dougall (T O’Donnell 52), S Buckley.

Edinburgh: J Cuthbert (N McLennan 71); D Fife, S Beard (P Burleigh 52 blood), A Strauss (Beard 63), T Visser (B Toolis 76); T Heathcote, S Kennedy (S Hidalgo-Clyne 71); A Dickinson (R Sutherland 76), R Ford (capt) (J Hilterbrand 61), J Andress (WP Nel 52); F McKenzie, O Atkins; T Leonardi (M Coman 61), H Watson, C Du Preez.

Referee: L Hodges (WRU).