Heineken Cup Pool 6: Edinburgh edge Munster in Murrayfield thriller
By Ben Hampshire. Last Updated: 12/10/13 8:17pm
Edinburgh, who lost all six of their pool-stage matches last term, put their Heineken Cup misery behind them with a 29-23 victory over Munster in an enthralling Murrayfield encounter on Saturday.
Tries from Matt Scott and Tim Visser combined with a near-perfect kicking display from Greig Laidlaw saw the Scottish region past a battling Munster side in round one.
The hosts led at the half-way stage thanks to the boot of Laidlaw but lost their advantage in the second period as Munster wrestled their way back.
In a thrilling finale, Visser soared down the left wing to score Edinburgh's second try before Laidlaw clinched victory from the tee as his personal tally reached 19.
The hosts dominated the opening exchanges and recycled possession well at the ruck to find centre Matt Scott, who crashed over the line before scrum-half Greig Laidlaw added the extras.
Edinburgh's pace was proving too much for Munster early on and Scotland international Laidlaw made no mistakes in extending the lead with a penalty just outside the 22.
Munster soon found inspiration as veterans Paul O'Connell and Keith Earls led from the front before the Edinburgh defence buckled under pressure to concede a kickable penalty, which Ian Keatley gratefully slotted home.
The Irishmen restored parity midway through the first half when centre Casey Laulala charged over the line after an excellent pass from scrum-half Conor Murray. Keatley dissected the uprights once again before Laidlaw's second penalty edged Edinburgh back in front.
Rob Penney's men continued to press forward and reaped their rewards in the 25th minute as hooker Mike Sherry bundled over the line from the back of the ruck after an intelligent tap-and-go move from Murray.
Keatley's conversion completed the turnaround as Munster took the lead for the first time, but it was short-lived, as Laidlaw struck twice from the tee to regain the advantage and give Edinburgh a 19-17 lead at the break.
Munster returned from the interval with gusto as O'Connell and Paddy Butler - making his Heineken Cup debut - drove through the Edinburgh defence, before Keatley notched a fourth kick from as many attempts to edge the visitors in front.
Despite the resilient efforts of Laidlaw - whose tackling excelled throughout for Edinburgh - Munster made strong territorial advances and their persistence paid off as Keatley slotted home another three-pointer after 10 phases of play to extend the lead to 23-19.
Alan Solomons' men were unwilling to roll over however and seized the momentum when JJ Hanrahan's kick fell into the hands of Visser, who raced away to leave the retreating Munster defence staring at a clean pair of heals to set up a thrilling finale.
Laidlaw subsequently added the extras and his fifth penalty of the afternoon as the hosts established a six-point lead.
A six attempt from the tee ricocheted off the posts to give Munster possession with seconds left on the clock but their frantic attack broke down with a knock-on as Edinburgh sealed a historic win.
Next on the agenda for Edinburgh will be a testing trip to the south of France to face Perpignan in round two, while Munster host Gloucester at Thomond Park.