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Munster 16-18 New Zealand

Munster (16) 16
Try: Murphy Con: Warwick Pens: Warwick 2 Drop: Warwick

New Zealand (10) 18
Try: Donald, Rokocoko Con: Donald Pens: Donald 2

Munster's Doug Howlett and Joe Rokocoko
Munster's Doug Howlett is tackled by Joe Rokocoko at Thomond Park

Joe Rokocoko's late try spared the All Blacks' blushes as they edged out understrength Munster in a thrilling contest at Thomond Park.

Munster led 16-10 at the break and looked set to repeat their 1978 win over the All Blacks when they remained 16-13 ahead with five minutes left.

Paul Warwick kicked 11 Munster points with Barry Murphy notching a try.

Fly-half Stephen Donald scored New Zealand's try and kicked eight more points despite his indifferent display.

Munster, minus 10 of their Ireland big guns, showed their intentions right from the off as their four New Zealanders produced their own Haka to throw down the gauntlet to the All Blacks.

That got the crowd fired up and the atmosphere remained electric for the entire contest.

The superb Warwick nudged Munster ahead with an eighth-minute penalty but Donald levelled seconds later after Denis Leamy had been caught offside.

However, Neil Ronan and his Munster forward colleagues were producing an inspired opening and a drive into the New Zealand 22 in the 18th minute yielded a penalty which Warwick superbly slotted.

With a penalty already assured, Warwick was able to to take a free potshot at a long-range drop goal on 21 minutes and the kick went straight between the posts.

Munster were guilty of an over-expansive approach two minutes later when a turnover allowed Donald to respond for the All Blacks with a relatively soft try.

Howlett attempted an ambitious pass to Murphy on the right wing and the mistake was punished under the posts in a flash.

Try-scorer Donald added the extras to put the All Blacks 10-9 ahead but Munster morale was boosted when the fly-half missed a great penalty chance to extend the visitors' advantage.

More brilliant work by Ronan put the All Blacks under pressure on 34 minutes.

Warwick attempts a drop goal attempt with Adam Thompson and Corey Flynn in the vicinity
Paul Warwick produced an outstanding game for Munster

Ronan disrupted a New Zealand scrum deep on the edge of the visitors 22 and forced the concession of a five-metre scrum.

At the second time of asking, Peter Stringer sniped off the back of the scrum and had the simple task of setting up Murphy to touch down with the defence nowhere.

Warwick added the difficult conversion and the half-time whistle sounded shortly afterwards with Munster 16-10 ahead.

New Zealand pressed hard at the start of the second half but Murphy produced a superb tackle to deny Jamie Mackintosh two minutes after the restart.

Another Donald penalty did cut Munster's lead to three after a Rua Tipoki infringement on the 47th minute.

Donald had two more excellent penalty chances in the next 10 minutes but pulled both attempts well wide.

Munster still led with 10 minutes left and Graham Henry felt compelled to introduce some heavy artillery in the shapes of Brad Thorn and Mils Muliaina.

With five minutes remaining, the All Blacks were given a lifeline when Mick O'Driscoll was harshly penalised for coming into a ruck from the side.

The penalty was kicked deep into Munster territory and the clean line-out ball resulted in Rokocoko charging through despairing Howlett and Stringer tackles to score.

Donald, yet again, missed the kick but the All Blacks were 18-16 ahead and they were able to hold on in the closing four minutes.

Munster: Howlett; B Murphy, Tipoki, Mafi, Dowling; Warwick, Stringer; Pucciariello, Sheahan, Ryan; M O'Driscoll (capt), Ryan; Coughlan, Ronan, Leamy.
Replacements: Buckley for Ryan 40, Fogarty for Sheahan 63, Holland for Leamy 24, Manning for Tipoki 52.
Not used: Melbourne, O'Sullivan, Prendergast

New Zealand: Jane; H Gear, Tuitavake, Toeava, Rokocoko; Donald, Weepu (capt); Mackintosh, Flynn, Franks, Filipo, Eaton, Thomson, Waldrom, Messam.
Replacements: Elliott for Flynn 65, Afoa for Franks 70, B Thorn for Filipo 71, Read for Thomson 60, Mathewson for Weepu 63, Muliaina for Tuitavake 71.
Not used: Kahui,

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see also
Ireland 3-22 New Zealand
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Watch Ma'a Nonu's try for NZ
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
International photos
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Autumn Tests - as they happened
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union

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