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Fierce defence secures Munster win

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/11/2016

Munster have added another famous victory to their collection, a ferocious defensive effort setting up a 27-14 win over the Maori All Blacks in Limerick.

The win continues Munster's tradition of challenging New Zealand teams, after they became the first Irish side to beat the All Blacks with a 12-0 win in 1978.

Three first-half tries set up the win, but Munster's outstanding defence was crucial over the second 40 minutes in keeping the Maori All Blacks scoreless.

Munster dominated the opening phases in steady rain at Thomond Park, keeping the ball close and laying seige to the Maori line before Niall Scannell touched down off a strong maul from an attacking lineout.

The Maori All Blacks finally secured possession and field position to hit back with two tries in three minutes as the half-hour mark neared.

Otere Black created a half-gap with his dummy and offloaded for fullback Marty McKenzie to set up James Lowe for the first try after 25 minutes.

Almost from the restart, No.8 Akira Ioane found himself in space and set off on a rampaging run before unleashing Ambrose Curtis down the right touch to score.

With Black nailing both conversions, the New Zealanders took a useful 14-5 lead but it didn't take long for Munster to reply, after a Darren Sweetnam kick in behind caused chaos inside the Maori 22.

Referee Craig Maxwell-Keys awarded the penalty try, yellow carding prop Reed Prinsep for tackling Scannell off the ball.

The home team capitalised on their numbers advantage two minutes before halftime, pouncing on a Maori handling error in the greasy conditions.

Sweetnam toed the loose ball ahead, and outpaced Lowe in the race for the line.

First five-eighth Ian Keatley extended Munster's 17-14 halftime lead three minutes after the restart with a penalty, the home team's fierce defensive pressure continuing to force handling errors from the Maori All Blacks.

Munster were reduced to 14 men with the sinbinning of halfback Duncan Williams for a high tackle on Lowe at 47 minutes, but the New Zealanders couldn't capitalise.

They continued to struggle at the breakdown, and were finally punished in the 68th minute when Williams chipped ahead and winger Ronan O'Mahony won the race to the line.

The Maori All Blacks pressed right to the final whistle, but never really threatened the Irish line.

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