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Ethan Coughlan of Munster during the United Rugby Championship match between Munster and Hollywoodbets Sharks at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Coughlan caps first competitive start with a try

Doora-Barefield’s Ethan Coughlan made his first competitive start for Munster as the province started their defence of the United Rugby Championship (URC) with a victory, writes Ivan Smyth..
Coughlan also managed to cross in the left corner for his first Munster try as the home side defeated The Sharks 34-21.
The Ennis RFC graduate lined out alongside Irish international Joey Carbery in what was his fourth appearance in the URC for Munster. His try came in the 77th minute as John Ryan produced a fine pass out wide. Alex Kendellen sucked in the defence before finding Antoine Frisch. The centre took the ball into the tackle before offloading to Coughlan as the scrum half dived over in the corner.
Shannon RFC’s Kieran Ryan was one of three Munster players to make their competitive debuts. The game was also notable for Andrew Conway’s first Munster start since June 2022.
It was a shaky start for the reigning URC champions with Shane Daly, Diarmuid Barron and Joey Carbery all making important tackles to prevent their defence being breached. Munster eventually found the rhythm as Edwin Edogbo stretched to score on 20 minutes after the province’s first real attack on the Sharks line.
Carbery slotted the conversion and six minutes later the out half offloaded to Alex Kendellen, who fed Diarmuid Barron on his shoulder to race over for the try. Carbery added the extras as Munster led 14-0.
Werner Kok scored in the right corner after a Curwin Bosch break before the latter added the conversion from the touchline to make it 14-7.
A vital Antoine Frisch try on the stroke of half-time gave Munster breathing room after good link-up play between Carbery and Conway. Frisch chipped over the defence and reacted quickest to ground the ball.
Carbery dissected the posts once more to ensure Munster led 21-7 at the break.
Munster had the upper hand at the start of the second half and Carbery slotted a penalty to increase the lead.
Sharks managed to battle back as Cameron Wright kicked a 50:22 before taking the quick lineout with Rohan Janse van Rensburg eventually scoring. Bosch’s conversion made it 24-14 after 49 minutes. Cameron Wright was sin-binned for a high tackle on Shane Daly after 64 minutes to open the door for Munster to get the bonus-point try.
The pack looked to maul over twice before swinging it wide with Shay McCarthy stopped just short. The pressure finally told when new signing Alex Nankivell floated a pass for Andrew Conway to score his 50th Munster try on his 150th appearance.
Scrum half Coughlan capped his first start in fine style as he put on the after burners to score in the left corner off a slick Frisch offload.
Munster face Benetton this Sunday in Italy with that game commencing at 2pm.

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