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controversy Niall Scannell to be examined by medical team after alleged biting incident in win over Stormers

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RG Snyman, centre, and Ben Healy of Munster share a joke

RG Snyman, centre, and Ben Healy of Munster share a joke

RG Snyman, centre, and Ben Healy of Munster share a joke

Munster coach Johann van Graan said that Niall Scannell would be examined by the medical team following an alleged biting incident in the third quarter of the URC tie where his team struggled to put away the Stormers.

The complaint was made on the field just after Jean Kleyn scored for Munster, but no visual evidence was immediately clear.

“He will be examined by the medical team,” Van Graan said. “That will take place later tonight. But all players that report any kind of injury or any kind of incident goes through our medical team so we’ll discuss that tonight.”

With a quarter of the game gone in a chilly Thomond Park the home team were rapidly revising their figures to accommodate a likely 0-19 position on the scoreboard.

We awaited the verdict from TMO Brian McNeice. Thumbs up and Munster were face to face with the unthinkable; thumbs down and they were looking at minus 12 points instead. The latter was hardly ideal but definitely more attractive. McNeice delivered good news and the paying punters in crowd of 10,723 — at least three were hollering for the visitors — probably figured things could only get better. They did, but not quickly.

By half-time we had shifted to 7-15 and when referee Andy Brace wrapped things up it was hard to remember the depth of the hole Munster had dug for themselves. An average team caused them a heap of problems solved only when the second half saw a shift to trench tactics.

So step two on the road towards much sought-after silverware and Munster’s stats look fine — six tries against the Sharks last weekend followed by another five here. But as the rain washed the players off the field at the end there wasn’t a lot to celebrate. They looked like a side easy to knock out of their stride. Scarlets next Sunday will be interesting.

Munster started as if they were waiting for someone to give them the all clear. While seated in this waiting room they allowed Dan du Plessis a clean break into their 22 which looked like giving the Stormers a flying start — it didn’t — but a bizarre sequence of unforced errors featuring Scannell (who later appeared to allege a biting incident in the second half), Gavin Coombes and Jack O’Donoghue gave a penalty shot to Manie Libbok. That he missed wasn’t a sign to the home crowd that all would soon be well.

Rather the error-fest continued, given some hurry-up by a hugely enthusiastic Stormers team. Pre-competition the word on their number eight Evan Roos was of a fearless competitor with a great engine. Coombes is one of the brightest stars in the Irish firmament at the moment but Roos was doing all the damage in the first half.

The Stormers were a strange mix of hit or miss, but always dangerous in space where their back three were in their element. Munster in contrast were all over the place. Joey Carbery struggled with restart/penalty to touch stuff and quickly found himself short of options because of the weak carrying by the red forwards. It was a case of recycle and regroup rather than recycle and attack.

Warwick Gelant got over for a try on nine minutes after lovely close handling by the forwards and then Leolin Zas got over in the corner after a scoring offload from Ruhan Nel. It wasn’t until the last play of the half that Munster finally got over the line — O’Donoghue squeezing over in a thicket of bodies for Carberry to score.

As they ran off you knew Munster were headed for a bollocking. Sure enough when they came out they looked ready to compete. First on the agenda was to batter the Stormers up front. Maul and grunt from close quarters.

It started working early on, and then gathered pace when captain Salmaan Moerat was binned for a deliberate blockdown. By the time he was coming back on the game was gone.

Three tries in that 10 minutes period reflected a rate of efficiency way at odds with the Munster of the first 40 minutes. Jean Kleyn, Niall Scannell and then O’Donoghue, for his second, all got over with Kleyn’s effort referred upstairs. A lot of rugby these days is spent trying to figure out if the man at the bottom of the pile of bodies has scored or not. It’s as hard to watch as it is to decipher but in this case it reflected the best policy for Munster. That’s not how they wanted the night to go but circumstances demanded it.

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As if to add some glamour, replacement RG Snyman literally slam-dunked the ball over the Stormers line for the biggest cheer of the night. We could have done with that a lot sooner.

Scorers - Munster: J O’Donoghue 2 tries; J Kleyn, N Scannell, RG Snyman try each; J Carbery 2 cons; B Healy pen, con;

Stormers: W Gelant try, pen 1; L Zas try;T Swiel pen; M Libbok con.

Munster: M Haley; C Nash, K Earls (S Zebo 60), R Scannell, S Daly; J Carbery (B Healy 62), C Casey (R Osborne 72); D Kilcoyne (J Loughman 48), N Scannell (D Barron 70), K Knox (S Archer, J Kleyn (RG Snyman 58), F Wycherley, P O’Mahony (capt), G Coombes, J O’Donoghue (J O’Sullivan 73).

Stormers: W Gelant; S Petersen, R Nel, D du Plessis (R Pretorius 67), L Zas; M Libbok (T Swiel 49), S Ungerer (G Masimla 56); B Harris (L Lyons 61), S Ntubeni (AH Venter 61), N Fouche (S Sandi 61), A Smith (E van Rhyn 66), S Moerat (capt)(yc 44-54), N Xaba (M Theunissen 66), E Roos, W Engelbrecht.

Referee: A Brace (IRFU)

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