URC: Edinburgh v Munster: frustration for hosts at end of brave performance

Narrow defeat means play-off prospects hang in the balance ahead of final regular season match away to Benetton in a fortnight's time

RG Snyman made an almost immediate impact for Munster versus Edinburgh. Image:: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
RG Snyman made an almost immediate impact for Munster versus Edinburgh. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Edinburgh 26

Munster 29

DAVID BARNES @ Hive Stadium

SEAN EVERITT picked his words carefully when assessing the penalty decision against Viliame Mata on his own line 12 minutes into the second-half of this gripping contest, from which Munster immediately scored their bonus-point and ultimately match-clinching try. 

The Fijian No 8 had leapt to the defence of his stand-off Ben Healy, who was grappling on the deck with the giant RG Snyman after what looked awfully like a late hit from the Munster second-row. The decision from Italian referee Gianluca Gnecchi, after discussion with his TMO, was that Snyman was committed to the tackle before Healy had kicked the ball so wasn’t guilty of an offence, and that Mata had escalated the situation (so presumably should have left 15-stone Healy to extricate himself from under the 21-stone Snyman all by himself).

Asked if that incident was a frustration in the aftermath of such a tight loss, capital head coach Everitt replied: “Yes it is. In these tight games the 50-50 calls have to go your way. We’ll have to review that. I thought maybe the boys were a bit unlucky in some of the calls – in tight situations you would like some of them to go your way.

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“And the referee has got a job to do,” he added. “We’ll have a look at it and go through the normal processes again to see where we can get better.”

Opposite number Graham Rowntree conceded that his side got the rub of the green on that occasion, but suggested that the matter should be considered within the context of the full 80 minutes.

“The penalty count was against us for most of the game but that’s not me moaning, it’s just something you have to manage,” he said. “It was tough, one of the toughest games we have had. We were dealing with a lot there. It was all going against us, particularly the penalty count.”

This losing bonus-point lifts Edinburgh ahead of Ulster into sixth place in the URC table, with the Northern Irish side’s round 17 match being played at home against Leinster tomorrow [Saturday] night. Ultimately, it leaves Edinburgh knowing that they need a win – perhaps with a bonus point depending on results elsewhere – in their final regular season match away to Benetton in a fortnight’s time to book their place in the play-offs.

“I’m disappointed,” added Everitt. “I thought the guys really put in a good showing tonight against the top team in the URC.

“Really disappointing not to get the result. I think the bounce of the ball at times didn’t go our way. But it was really close, and I think the team has improved, so we’ll take the positives out of it and if we can perform like this against Benetton we’ll get the result in Italy.”

The prospect of losing yet another back-three player after Wes Goosen was carted from the field will hardly have raised Everitt’s spirits.

“It looked like his ankle,” said the coach. “We’ve got a week off now to recover, and hopefully everyone will be fit for the Benetton game.”



Munster raced out of the blocks and spent the first two minutes bombarding the home line, but found no way through, and Edinburgh were let off the hook when Jack Crowley knocked-on a simple pass with runners lining up on his outside.

Instead, it was the home side who struck first after Pierre Schoeman pick-pocketed a Munster ruck on his 10-yard line and possession was quickly transferred to Mark Bennett who sent a smart kick into Munster’s deserted back field, with Duhan van der Merwe in hot pursuit.

Mike Haley did well to get back and hack the ball to relative safety over the dead ball line, but Edinburgh kept the pressure on from the resultant scrum, earning a breakdown penalty which Healy gratefully turned into three points against his old team.

The hosts then doubled their account when retiring warhorse WP Nel squeezed a scrum penalty out of Jerry Loughman and Healy did the necessary.

Munster rallied and it took a thunderous tackle from James Lang on Gavin Coomes to stop the big back-rower going over on the left.

There was no stopping Antoine Frisch a few minutes later when he collected his own chip ahead then left Wes Goosen and van der Merwe’s clutching at shadows as he dived over on the right.

Crowley didn’t manage the touchline conversion, leaving Edinburgh with a slender point lead, and that became a slightly chunkier home advantage when another ruck penalty inside Munster’s 22 was given the customary treatment from Healy’s right boot.

With their tails up, Edinburgh struck again when Bennett’s speculative grubber somehow confounded at least three red jerseys and the home centre capitalised for an opportunist try.

Munster fought their way back into the contest with a gruelling period of pressure on the Edinburgh line. It took a while, but after softening up Edinburgh’s impressively resolute defence through the big men, some neathands from Craig Casey and Crowley created the gap for Frische to scramble over for his second.

This time Crowley had no problem adding the extras from just to the right of the posts, which cut it a four-point home advantage at the break.



And it soon became a three-point game leaning in the away teams favour when Rory Scannell hooked both Ben Vellacott and Bennett before sending Crowley between the sticks for a self-converted try, only for the host to draw it equal with another Healy penalty, although they may feel that they missed the chance of seven points given they’d had attacking ball close to the visiting line whilst playing advantage, only to let Munster off the hook with a wild pass.

Snyman lumbered off the bench and immediately played his role in the try which not only restored Munster’s lead but also secured the bonus point, leaving the home support outraged. As the boos echoed round the Hive Stadium, Munster took a tap penalty from three-yards out, and Coomes was propelled over after Niall Scannell‘s initial thrust.

Now Edinburgh rallied and after Bennett had gone close, Connor Murray – just off the bench – was yellow-carded for flying in from the side to slow possession on his own line, and he can perhaps count himself lucky that he didn’t also give up a penalty try.

Poor Gnecchi was feeling the pressure, with the home crowd continued to voice their frustration, and he had another big decision to make when Edinburgh’s replacement loose-head Boan Venter thought he’d got the ball down over the line amid a pile of bodies, requiring a TMO review which had echoes of Scotland’s disallowed try against France during the Six Nations.

On this occasion, the decision went the home team’s away, with the try awarded and Healy’s conversion squaring the match once again with 10 minutes to go.

Munster edged themselves back in front with a Crowley penalty given against Lang for lying over the tackled man, then Edinburgh had an immediate to hit back straight from the restart when Tom Ahern was penalised for holding-on under pressure from the jackaling Jamie Ritchie, but they opted to go for the corner and made a meal of the line-out.

That proved to be the final roll of the dice for the home side. Munster produced a masterclass in how to close out a game, setting up camp inside Edinburgh’s 22 for the remainder of the contest. They actually came close to scoring another try during that period, but won’t be too fussed about letting their opponents come away with a losing bonus-point which will have been little consolation.


Teams – 

Edinburgh: W Goosen (C Scott 58); M Currie, M Bennett (C Dean 63), J Lang, D van der Merwe; B Healy, B Vellacott (A Price 62); P Schoeman (B Venter 58), E Ashman (D Cherry 58), W Nel (J Sebastian 58), S Skinner (M Sykes 58), G Gilchrist (M Sykes 47-56), J Ritchie, H Watsons (L Crosbie 62), V Mata.

Munster: M Haley (R Scannell 22); C Nash, A Frisch, A Nankivell (C Murray 58), S Daly; J Crowley, C Casey; J Loughman, N Scannell (E Clarke  65), O Jager (J Ryan 51), F Wycherley (R Snyman 43), T Beirne, J O’Donoghue, A Kendellen (T Ahern 51), G Coombes (B Gleeson 71).

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi


Scorers – 

Edinburgh: Tries: Bennett, Venter; Cons: Healy 2; Pens: Healy 4.

Munster: Tries: Frische 2, Crowley, Coombes; Con: Crowley 3.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh first): 3-0; 6-0; 6-5; 9-5; 14-5; 16-5. 16-10; 16-12 (h-t) 16-17; 16-19; 19-19; 19-24; 19–26; 24-26; 26-26; 26-29.


Yellow cards – 

Munster: Murray (63mins)

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About David Barnes 3997 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Ha ha , AlanJ, think you need to re-adjust your tongue in cheek filter.

    However your response is pretty rude, taking yourself a bit seriously there pal.

    Do you not realise these forums are just a bit of fun and occasionally a bit of serious comment.

    And being serious for a moment, I actually don’t agree with you. I’d say most sides actually aim to play up to the limit of the rules, while the Irish sides, including the national side, deliberately take it as far over the line as the ref will let them.

    Refereeing decisions are always a matter of interpretation, in this case, I disagree with the refs decision to the extent I think it was very poor and match affecting.

  2. Agree that decision on Snyman/Healy incident was weird. But on other side, questionable grounding and high hit on Jack O’Donoghue. Neither side happy with reffing

  3. It must be a record season for end of term excitement… Top 4 and top 8 all up for grabs !!!

    And who cares about the Welsh :). They might be back next year ….

  4. So weekend results could not have gone much worse. ..

    But 1 point v Benetton will protect us from Connacht and Ospreys. And then it’s either we beat Benetton or Lions lose for a top 8.

    Lions are away to Stormers, so that could well happen. and we have a better than even chance v Benetton… IF we play like Friday with just a little more penetration?

    Go all out for 4 tries and guarantee it?


  5. After all yesterdays games it seems strangely if I have got my maths correct that it is still possible that Edinburgh can qualify for the last 8 even if they lose to Bennetton. Providing Lions, Connacht and Ospreys dont win.

  6. Law 13.4 states “Players on their feet and without the ball must not fall on or over players on the ground who have the ball or who are near it. Sanction: Penalty.”
    Regarding the Mata incident, the ball was nowhere near, so this law would not apply: Mata was just defending a team mate who was being attacked by Snyman, who, instead, should have been penalised for not rolling away.
    My bugbear about Law 13.4 is that it could be applied to the majority of breakdown situations, where players dive on top of the situation. Perhaps referees have been told to ignore that law (like the scrum feed law!).

    • Let’s just call it what it is, Munster, along with every other Irish side, are cheats.

      It’s very disappointing that after all these years the refs just don’t want to see it.

      And as someone else pointed out let’s add in the (expletive) Italian ref as a cheat too, just re watched that incident and Snyman is the one to blame for the escalation.

      However, let’s take that game to Benetton and stuff them.

      • Let’s just call it what it is, all sides cheat when they can.

        One-eyed childish posters can only see sides from one particular country cheating.

        Ignorant embarrassing posters abuse referees when they give decisions they don’t like.

  7. What a coincidence that Edinburgh were vying with Bennetton for a top 8 spot and, lo and behold, an Italian referees the Edinburgh Munster game.

    The Snyman “ploy” also comes as no surprise as Munster have previous against Edinburgh in a Quarter Final a few years ago, when Edinburgh were in the lead near the end and were awarded a penalty, only for street wise Beirne to brush past an Edinburgh player and collapse like a ton of bricks. The penalty was reversed and Munster went on to score and win the game. Edinburgh simply can’t compete with masters of the dark arts.

    • Great game with both sides giving a fantastic display, best we’ve played for some time. Unfortunately only marred by a very poor referee, who never seemed to have any grip on the fast moving game. We’ll still get there!

  8. I thought Snyman’s late tackle on Healy was a yellow card – ridiculous decision to give penalty to Munster. Munster’s backs were far superior with short fast passing, fixing opponent and looking for space. Bennett is a problem in that he looks for contact rather than space and vdm hardly touched the ball in first half.

    • Should have been yellow for Synman, not alone for deliberate late tackle but also for lying on Healy and taunting him.

      • Exactly.

        Tackler must roll away as soon as possible. Even if it wasn’t a late and dangerous hit, which it obviously was, it is a penalty for that alone.

        I’m afraid that that decision, along with the two reset scrums when Edinburgh were powering towards the goal-line and the ridiculous decision to penalise Lang for not releasing after the tackle for the winning points demonstrate that Gnecchi was intent on ensuring Edinburgh would not win.

        I am currently watching the Netflix documentary Bad Sport and, by chance, the current episode is the one about the Italian football refereeing scandal about 20 years ago.

        I thought I was watching it all unfold again last night.

    • Correct in all you say sir, someone needed to give Snyman a dull yin.
      In total agreement re Bennett too, I reckon may as well have Currie and his superior physicality at 13.
      Shouldn’t have given Price a contract, should’ve signed John Cooney 2 years ago.
      DvDM is perhaps the est strike runner in the league, this is ,however, a moot point given he rarely sees the ball

  9. This summed up Edinburgh’s season loads of effort forwards terrific backs non-existant. DVDM looked really dangerous every time he got thge ball but hardly received it. Backs never came close to unlocking Munster’s defence. Munster’s attack looked dangerous everytime they got the ball. I lost count of the number of box kicks where we just gave away the ball. No wonder the backs are unable to score the ball rarely gets beyond our 9’s. Please, please can we get a new attack coach.

  10. Ramblings.
    Cannot fault the guys, tremendous effort, one more score when Edinburgh’s dander was up would’ve been interesting.
    Pretty much Munster more streetwise. Maybe need to beat Bennetton to make play offs.
    Schoeman had a great game, Ritchie & Vellacott were excellent (especially in 1st ½)

  11. Ignoring the obvious shenanigans by Munster (getting away with being offside most of the game, and some poor refereeing etc) the nub of it to me was that the Munster defence was too good and we could not find a way to unlock it. We had enough possession and territory to win the game, but not yet the guile.

    But you certainly cannot fault the commitment and effort, full marks for that and on another night we could well have won.

  12. Can’t fault the effort – the guys gave their all and really threw themselves into the tackle with some strong defence. And what an atmosphere at the Hive with a full house – I’ve never seen so much passion at an Edinburgh game. It was an exciting game but ultimately Munster were just that bit slicker with the ball and looked a fair bit more threatening than we ever did. They have developed a faster offloading game that we haven’t as yet and they moved the ball wide quite easily which we didn’t. It was gritty but lacking the finesse to beat the likes of Munster.

    We’re not done yet though, if results go our way then a win at Benetton could do us.

  13. Disappointing outcome. The ref wasn’t great, but did award a try without the compelling evidence that Sam Skinner had against France. Otherwise, it’s off to the finest rugby destination in the URC and still a great chance to make the top 8.

    • Ramblings.
      Cannot fault the guys, tremendous effort, one more score when Edinburgh’s dander was up would’ve been interesting.
      Pretty much Munster more streetwise. Maybe need to beat Bennetton to make play offs.
      Schoeman had a great game, Ritchie & Vellacott were excellent (especiallynin 1st ½

    • The ref didn’t give the try, he was looking for a way not too, it was the assistant that told him to give it, different to Munsters hidden try that he gave instantly then looked around at the linesman, which tells all that he hadn’t seen a grounding and was looking round for help… and the Snyman late tackle and roughing up was pathetic to suggest Mata instigated it… I really hate this bully boy tactic that sees any 10 smashed if at all possible by the hard man… referees always miss it 🤔

  14. Not sure what to make of that. High intensity first half, Mata superb then, and should Have had a greater lead at half time. Munster subs made a bigger difference than ours. Of course the referee didn’t help but we didn’t help ourselves either in the second half. All very frustrating and some quality, creative backs are needed over the summer. I wish them well for Benetton but it’s not going to be easy.

  15. Lucky bounce for Munster’s first try, while Snyman’s follow-up on Healy was nothing short of assault. Big Bill’s retaliation gave the ref the excuse he needed to find against Edinburgh and that was the decisive moment of the game. Then the men from the capital blew the chance to take it late in the dying moments by butchering their own lineout. Scotland’s second side weren’t quite good enough to beat the Munster men tonight, but it won’t be long now. Frankly, while the purists may moan about it they got the five points which they only just deserved and the Scots would have been robbed not even to get the solitary bonus. A good effort, so close and they weren’t there to make the opposition look good. Hopefully Glasgow will re-take that top spot tomorrow. Their rugby lives depends upon it and it’s entirely in their own hands.


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