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Rugby

22nd Oct 2016

66 seconds of sheer Munster brilliance has Thomond Park on its feet

Just what they needed

Patrick McCarry

Munster got off to a perfect, sublime start in their Champions Cup opener.

The hosts looked wobbly and error-strewn in their warm up drills but you could not blame them at all. They buried their head coach – and Munster legend – Anthony Foley on Friday afternoon.

Less than 24 hours later and they were out on the pitch to take on Glasgow Warriors in a crucial European game.

One wondered if they had it in them to focus on the tough task at hand, especially after the emotional pre-game tributes, but that first 66 seconds will long stay in the memory. There were strong carries from Niall Scannell and Jaco Taute, hefty tackling and menacing intent in everything they did.

Many of us would have been hoping for the Munster pack to maul and bash their way into the Warriors 22 and power over from close in. How fitting it would have been for CJ Stander, wearing 24 but playing No.8, to do the scoreboard damage.

Instead, we were treated to a stunning, stealthy try. Keith Earls made the line break and delivered a sublime offload to outhalf Tyler Bleyendaal in support.

The Kiwi had Tommy O’Donnell in support, out wide, but made a swift, arcing run and backed himself to touch down. He had company by the time he reached the tryline but his momentum and ragged determination got him over.

The roar; the relief; was like a wave.

Munster were always capable of shredding teams out wide. Sometimes they chose, in the words of Foley, ‘to do what we are good at’ and win the fight up front.

This would do too. It certainly would do.

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