GERHARD VAN DEN HEEVER was at the centre of two crucial moments that resulted in an away defeat for Munster to Scarlets. The winger scored a superb first-half try but was denied by the video referee late in the game.
Van den Heever blazed in a superb intercept try to give Munster the edge at half-time against Scarlets. Olly Barkley put Simon Easterby’s side ahead early on but the league leaders fought back to earn a deserved lead at the break.
Ian Keatley levelled matters after 14 minutes when Simon Zebo, starting at fullback, was obstructed chasing a grubber kick. The turning point of the half arrived on 28 minutes as Gareth Davies spun off a Scarlets scrum and sniped up the blindside. He evaded James Coughlan, Duncan Williams and Johne Murphy before zeroing in on the tryline. Coughlan got back and looked to have held him up but the video official awarded the try. There would be no salt in the wound as the conversion drifted wide.
The visitors responded through Tommy O’Donnell, who fended off two men and breached the Scarlets 22. He needed support but his pass managed to find back-tracking Scarlets captain Jonathan Davies.
With 35 minutes on the clock, Davies made another break but the resulting phase of play resulted in an intercept try for Munster’s flying South African winger Gerhard van den Heever. Keatley chipped over the close range conversion.
Murphy went close up the left wing but was bundled out of play. Munster pressed on and Keatley added a late penalty to give his side a five point advantage at the break.
With 42 minutes on the clock, the Dubliner missed an early penalty attempt to extend his team’s lead. Munster would regret that miss soon after as Aled Thomas slotted over a penalty to make it 13-11. Worse was to follow for Penney’s men.
Scrum-half Duncan Williams, who was awarded a one-year contract extension during the week, threw a poor pass that openside John Barclay intercepted. He ran in a try close to the posts with Zebo chasing down a lost cause. The Thomas conversion made it 18-13.
Munster swarmed all over the Welsh side in the closing stages and went close through Zebo, CJ Stander and O’Donnell. Scarlets held firm despite a late Josh Turnbull yellow card and some tense video replay moments that resulted in their favour. Van den Heever thought he had scored in the right-hand corner but the TMO said otherwise. 10 minutes later and the final whistle meant defeat.
Munster: Simon Zebo; Gerhard van den Heever, Casey Laulala, Denis Hurley, Johne Murphy (Ronan O’Mahony); Ian Keatley (JJ Hanrahan), Duncan Williams (Gerry Hurley); Dave Kilcoyne (James Cronin), Duncan Casey, Stephen Archer (BJ Botha); Donncha O’Callaghan (Dave Foley), Donnacha Ryan; CJ Stander (Sean Dougall), Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan (capt.).
Replacement not used: Ger Slattery.