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Saturday, 31 August, 2002, 20:02 GMT 21:02 UK
O'Gara inspires Munster
Llanelli fly-half Stephen Jones is stopped in his tracks
Llanelli found it hard to break Munster's defence
Celtic League - Pool A
Llanelli 13-20 Munster

Munster led from start to finish at Stradey Park to open their Celtic League campaign with a win over Llanelli.

Ronan O'Gara laid the foundations for the victory with an almost faultless kicking display.

The fly-half landed five penalties and created his side's only try in the last minute with a pin-point cross-field kick for winger Maurice Lawler to put the result beyond doubt.

Llanelli's points came courtesy of Stephen Jones' boot and a well worked try from winger Mark Jones.

  Match details
Llanelli (6) 13
Tries: M Jones
Cons: S Jones
Pens: S Jones (2)
Munster (9) 20
Tries: M Lawler
Pens: O'Gara (5)
Despite a bright and open start to the match, it took fifteen minutes before the sides troubled the scorers.

O'Gara drew first blood with a penalty, only for Jones to wipe out Munster's lead four minutes later.

Another two O'Gara penalties, with a Jones effort in between, gave a 9-6 half-time score.

Llanelli could and should have gone into the break ahead, but Wayne Proctor threw away a golden opportunity to score the first try of the match.

Jones had created the chance by charging down and then collecting Peter Stringer's attempted clearance.

Proctor was in the perfect position to receive his pass inside, but the winger's hands let him down at the crucial moment with the try line at his mercy.

The home fans suffered further disappointment after the break when Proctor's fellow winger Jones emulated his team-mate's wastefulness.

Guy Easterby's chip kick over the Munster defence was perfectly weighted for the on-rushing Jones, but the winger let the ball and the chance slip through his fingers.

Llanelli winger Mark Jones
Mark Jones' try gave Llanelli hope of victory
O'Gara landed his fifth penalty of the night soon afterwards, adding to his previous success five minutes into the second half.

On 65 minutes, Munster went a man down after centre Mike Mullins was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Llanelli debutant Matthew Watkins.

Jones, though, missed a relatively easy kick at goal from the resulting penalty.

But the man extra man advantage soon proved decisive as Mark Jones made up for his earlier mistake to make the most of the overlap to dive over in the left corner.

Stephen Jones brought his side within two points of the visitors with a superb conversion from the left touchline.

But all hope of snatching the points were well and truly buried when Lawler crossed in the left corner after calmly collecting O'Gara cross-field kick and fending off the challenge of Matt Cardey.

O'Gara ruined his perfect record by missing the conversion, but the referee soon blew his whistle for full-time to give the Irishmen a well-earned opening win.


Llanelli: G Evans; M Jones M J Watkins, M Cardey, W Proctor; S Jones, G Easterby; I Thomas, R McBryde, M Madden, V Cooper (capt), P Clapham, S Easterby, I Boobyer, S Quinnell.
Reps: J Davies, M Thomas, B Griffiths, D Jones, D Peel, G Bowen, B Davies.

Munster: D Crotty; J Kelly, M Mullins, R Henderson, M Lawlor; R O'Gara, P Stringer; M Horan, F Sheahan, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, M O'Driscoll, E Halvey, A Quinlan, A Foley.
Reps: J Blaney, S Kerr, C McMahon, M Galwey, D Malone, J Holland, J Staunton.

Referee: R Dixon (Scotland)


The final

SEASON STATS

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING RUGBY
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