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By ARU Media Unit
The final match for the Australian Schools team on the tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland was against Munster Under 18s. The game was played at the impressive home of Munster Rugby, Thomond Park in Limerick.
Once again the boys were faced with difficult playing conditions with a strong cold wind sweeping straight down the ground. Australian captain, Andrew Kellaway won the toss and elected to run with the wind in the first half. This paid immediate dividends with Australia regaining possession after the kick off.
Several phases were achieved and it looked like Australia would score but a penalty was awarded with a Munster player off his feet at the breakdown.
Mitchel Third kicked accurately and the Australians grabbed the early advantage 3-0. Australia regained possession from the restart and recycled ball quickly to place Munster under great pressure once again.
After several phases left, Mitchell Short reversed the play from the back of the ruck to the right where direct running and quick hands from Morgan and Kellaway found flying full back, Adrian Henley in a hole and he out footed the Munster defense to score to the right of the uprights.
The conversion attempt was unsuccessful after it hit the upright but Australia had extended the lead to 8-0.
There was then a long period of time where Munster held possession of the ball. The Australians were penalised repeatedly by the Irish referee and the Munster boys started to energize with a strong parochial crowd behind them.
The Australian boys defended brilliantly but once again were penalised at the breakdown well within kicking range. Tomas Quinlan was successful with penalty attempt and the margin was reduced to 5.
Several missed opportunities marred the final period of play for the first half but Australia held its 8-3 lead going into the break. Would it be enough of a lead with Munster having the advantage in the second half?
The early exchanges in the second half were torrid, but Australia held, gaining an early advantage after a Munster mistake. Australia pressed hard and once again looked like scoring but denied an opportunity to do so by another penalty at the breakdown.
Mitchell Third was again successful with a penalty kick and Australia had once extended its lead to 8. From the re start, Munster gained control following an Australian knock.
Munster then threatened the Australian defense with several controlled mauls that Australia was struggling to contain. A penalty was awarded to Munster after Australia collapsed the maul and the deadly boot of Tomas Quinlan was again successful but Australia held the lead 11-6 as the match began to tighten up.
Munster applied early pressure from the restart but it was Australia who struck again when the backline combined well to put Harry Jones in space. Jones beat two defenders on the way to scoring a great team try in the 57th minute.
Unfortunately, the conversion attempt was unsuccessful but Australia now held the lead 16-6. The Australians once again entered a period in the match where it was on the wrong side of the Irish referee.
The scrum was suddenly under pressure and the Munster team gained confidence with its rolling maul proving a good threat to the Australian defense.
The Munster forwards continued to apply pressure and with a roaring crowd behind them, replacement forward, Cormac Blake crashed over to score just left of the uprights. Quinlan converted the try and it was Australia 16, Munster 13.
The final minutes of the match were tense with play going from one end of the field to the other.
Both teams had chances to score, but it was the Australian defense that held solid under extreme pressure from the fired up Munster team and a passionate crowd behind them to record a well- deserved victory.
Final Score: Australian Schools v Munster Under 18s, Thomond Park, Limerick, Tuesday 17th December 2013
Australian Schools, 16 (tries: Adrian Henley, Harry Jones, penalty goals: Mitchell Third x 2) defeated Munster Under 18s, 13 (try: Cormac Blake, conversion: Tomas Quinlan, penalty goals: Tomas Quinlan x 2).