Pro14: Scarlets 10-6 Munster
|Guinness Pro14: Scarlets v Munster|
|Scarlets (7) 10|
|Tries: Nicholas Conversions: Halfpenny Penalties: Halfpenny|
|Munster (6) 6|
|Penalties: Johnston (2)|
Scarlets boosted their Pro14 play-off chances with a gritty 10-6 win over high-flying Munster in driving rain.
Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny turned in a classy display in his second game back after concussion, kicking five points to add to Ioan Nicholas' early try.
Bill Johnston kicked penalties for Munster at either end of the first half.
Munster slipped off the top of Conference A behind Glasgow.
Centre Kieron Fonotia led the Scarlets for the first time as they fielded Wales squad front-rowers Wyn Jones and Ryan Elias as well as Halfpenny, with Rhys Patchell playing 25 minutes off the bench.
Munster, who only had prop John Ryan released by Ireland for a solid hour's game time, opened the scoring with an early Johnston penalty after winning two lineouts off home throws.
But Scarlets put Nicholas over for the first try after 11 minutes after Halfpenny set up their attacking platform with a run from half-way, and landed the conversion off the post.
Their back-five forwards' injury jinx struck again inside the first quarter though, as flanker Dan Davis was helped off with apparent concussion and replaced by Tom Phillips.
Munster enjoyed lengthy spells of pressure in the rain with Kiwi hooker Rhys Marshall carrying hard, but narrowly failed to batter their way over, and had to settle for a second Johnston penalty in the 40th minute to make it 7-6.
With the Scarlets forwards employing Munsteresque pick-and-go power, Halfpenny's simple penalty after 48 minutes extended the lead.
Munster then muscled their way over through Jean Kleyn on the hour, only for the score to be ruled out for obstruction following a long TMO consultation.
On a difficult night for defenders, Halfpenny had to turn on the speed to beat Darren Sweetnam to a kick through to the Scarlets' line after 68 minutes.
The home side then hung on to win an absorbing battle of two below-strength sides, as Munster launched a final foray into the home 22 in vain with their seven-match winning run coming to a soggy end.
Scarlets number eight Uzair Cassiem was man-of-the-match for a sterling defensive display.
Scarlets captain Kieron Fonotia told BBC Sport Wales:
"It was definitely a good game to be part of, the forwards made our job as backs pretty easy and they gutsed out a pretty good victory with some solid defence. It was awesome, seeing the forwards beat Munster at what they're good at, I'm proud of the boys' efforts.
"The possession and territory stats were heavily in their favour, but the result keeps us alive until we get our 'big boys' back from Wales, we've left them in good stead."
Munster coach Johann van Graan said:
"The conditions were very tough, we did such a lot of good stuff in that game and it was very frustrating not to score those tries. We were literally half a metre away twice. we had a disallowed try and there were some big moments in the game.
"I thought they defended really well, but their try was also a call by the TMO and there was a brilliant offload to score. We did enough to win it, but credit to the Scarlets."
Scarlets: Johnny McNicholl, Kieron Fonotia (Capt), Paul Asquith, Ioan Nicholas; Dan Jones, Kieran Hardy; Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Werner Kruger, Josh Helps, Lewis Rawlins, Josh Macleod, Dan Davis, Uzair Cassiem.
Replacements: Marc Jones, Phil Price, Javan Sebastian, Tom Price, Tom Phillips, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Rhys Patchell, Steff Evans.
Munster: Mike Haley; Ronan O'Mahony, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Darren Sweetnam; Bill Johnston, Alby Mathewson; Jeremy Loughman, Rhys Marshall, John Ryan; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland (Capt), Fineen Wycherley, Conor Oliver, Arno Botha.
Replacements: Kevin O'Byrne, Liam O'Connor, Stephen Archer, Darren O'Shea, Jack O'Donoghue, Neil Cronin, Tyler Bleyendaal, Jaco Taute.
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)
Assistant referees: Ben Whitehouse (WRU), Dave Sutherland (SRU)
TMO: Ian Davies (WRU)