Munster began their Pro14 title challenge with a 38-0 bonus-point win against the Cheetahs in Limerick on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
Cheetahs rugby just can’t catch a break. After Free State suffered an agonising four-point defeat against the Sharks earlier in the day – extending their winless run in the Currie Cup to three games – the Cheetahs made the worst possible start to their Pro14 campaign as they were kept scoreless.
To add insult to injury, the Cheetahs had to see out the match without captain Oupa Mohoje, who was forced off the field with an injury in the 14th minute.
But while Cheetahs coach Franco Smith will be scratching his head about this sub-standard performance, Munster boss Johann van Graan will be pleased with the performance and result his team produced against his countrymen.
Munster’s backline, boosted by the free-running of wing Darren Sweetnam, caused the most damage to the Cheetahs’ fragile defence.
With Munster in control from start to finish, the Cheetahs simply didn’t stand a chance. The visitors were devoid of ideas on attack against a stoic defence and looked to have given up the fight in the first half. Munster didn’t start off all too well themselves, but two first-half tries by Rory Scannell and Dave Kilcoyne gave them a 12-0 half-time lead.
Munster’s forwards were more prominent in the second half, with both Arno Botha and Jean Kleyn making a big impact. Flank Tommy O’Donnell crossed the line in the 53rd minute to push his side’s lead out to 17.
Captain Billy Holland then thought he was in for the all-important bonus-point try, but TV replays confirmed he lost control of the ball before regathering and grounding it.
The error, though, made no real difference as Munster continued to run the Cheetahs ragged.
JJ Hanrahan and Dave O’Callaghan were next to score against a Cheetahs side that became sloppier and more passive by the minute.
The final score of the game came when Man of the Match Sweetnam slipped through a gap to get a well-deserved try of his own.
Munster – Tries: Rory Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Tommy O’Donnell, JJ Hanrahan, Dave O’Callaghan, Darren Sweetnam. Conversions: Hanrahan (4).
Munster – 15 Mike Haley; 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Dan Goggin, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Shane Daly; 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Neil Cronin, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Dave O’Callaghan, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 John Ryan, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Subs: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Brian Scott, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Darren O’Shea, 20 Gavin Coombes, 21 James Hart, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Sammy Arnold.
Cheetahs –15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Rabz Maxwane, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Nico Lee, 11 William Small-Smith, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Aranos Coetzee, 19 Walt Steenkamp, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Ernst Stapelberg, 23 Ryno Eksteen.