Late victory Healy’s last-gasp penalty wins tie for Munster
Ben Healy's last minute penalty saw 14- man Munster snatch a dramatic 30-27 Guinness PRO14 victory at Scarlets.
Leigh Halfpenny kicked nine penalties to break Scarlets’ record for most penalties in a match, surpassing the previous mark of eight set by Stephen Jones and Byron Hayward.
Halfpenny’s efforts appeared to have condemned Munster to defeat, particularly when Peter O’Mahony was red carded in the 68th minute after picking up two yellows.
However, the flanker’s dismissal proved the catalyst for a remarkable reversal of fortunes. Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Farrell and Kevin O’Byrne scored tries for the Red Army, with JJ Hanrahan adding a penalty and conversion.
Healy also added two conversion and two penalties.
With respective scrum-halves Gareth Davies and Craig Casey intent on kicking the ball at every available opportunity, the opening 15 minutes were easily forgotten with neither side threatening the try-line.
Scarlets got on the board when Halfpenny made no mistake with two straightforward penalties in quick succession to give his side a 6-0 lead.
Ruck Munster suffered a further blow when their skipper O’Mahony was sin-binned for charging into a ruck and taking a man out off the ball, and in the flanker’s absence Halfpenny kicked another penalty.
O’Mahony was still absent when Munster picked up the first try of the game – a strong run from Andrew Conway paving the way for a try for O’Donoghue.
Hanrahan converted before a fourth penalty from Halfpenny gave Scarlets a 12-7 interval lead.
After the restart an error from Hanrahan gifted the Welsh region a platform. The outside half sent a touchline kick into the dead ball area for Scarlets to capitalise with another Halfpenny penalty.
Hanrahan atoned for his error by kicking a penalty but Halfpenny again responded with three further penalties as Scarlets became increasingly dominant.
Munster rallied to score their second try when Farrell finished off a period of pressure to force his way over but there was a sting in the tale as O’Mahony was sent off for again charging into the ruck as Farrell placed the ball over the line.
Halfpenny kicked the resulting and record-breaking penalty from half-way before Healy responded with one to keep Munster in it.
Nerve Remarkably they then scored another 10 points, with O’Byrne finishing off a driving line-out which Healy converted before the replacement outside-half held his nerve to fire over the match-winner.
SCARLETS: L Halfpenny; T Rodgers, J Davies, S Hughes, S Evans; D Jones (R Patchell 65), G Davies (K Hardy 61); W Jones (P Price 62), K Owens (R Elias 53), W Kruger (J Sebastian 52), J Ball, S Lousi (L Rawlins 61), B Thomson, J Macleod (J Davies 65), S Kalamafoni.
MUNSTER: M Haley; A Conway, C Farrell, D de Allende, D Sweetnam (R Scannell 61); JJ Hanrahan (B Healey 53), C Casey; J Cronin (J Loughman 61), R Marshall K O’Byrne 48), J Ryan (S Archer 61), J Kleyn (G Coombes 61), T Beirne (F Wicherley 62), P O’Mahony, J O’Donoghue, CJ Stander.
Referee: Sam Groove-White (SRU)
Scarlets: Pens: L Halfpenny 16, 20, 25, 35, 45, 51, 55, 65, 70
Munster: Tries: J O’Donoghue 29, C Farrell 67, K O’Byrne 7 Cons: JJ Hanrahan 15 B Healy 69, 78 Pens: JJ Hanrahan 48, B Healy 72,90