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GAA: Munster bashed as Irish take first blood; Munster 5 London Irish 12.

Byline: EDWARD NEWMAN

AN experimental Munster side were left licking their wounds when London Irish posted two tries in a deserved victory in this pre-season friendly.

There was plenty of Munster passion shown in the opening 10 minutes but for all their huffing and puffing, they found it near impossible to breach a solid Irish defence.

It was their first visit to Thomond Park and London Irish looked determined to make their mark on local rugby fans.

Despite the best efforts of record All-Black try scorer, Christian Cullen to get his backs moving, the visitors were ultra-tight in defence, where Justin Bishop and Kieron Dawson excelled.

New Munster signing Paul Burke tried to play the percentages with some fine kicking in behind the Irish defence but Munster's lineout couldn't force any turnover ball.

The deadlock was broken in the 29th minute when a beautiful chip by prominent outhalf Mark Mapletoft was misjudged by Anthony Horgan and London Irish flanker Kieron Dawson pounced for the game's opening try.

Mapletoft converted and though Horgan came close before the interval, Munster's efforts came to nought.

Alan Gaffney rung the changes at the break and on the restart Steven Keogh had a wonderful chance to life Munster's spirits but fumbled near the line.

There was a breakthrough in the 52nd minute when Cullen intercepted on his own 22, went on a 50 yard run and after being pulled won, McPahil kicked on for Brian Touhy to touch down.

However Irish had the last say when Pierre Durant got in for his side's second try in the 72nd minute to seal what turned out to be a fairly convincing win.

CAPTION(S):

CHANCE: Stephen Keogh had a great opportunity to score
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 18, 2004
Words:286
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