Pro14: Edinburgh 12-6 Munster
|Pro14: Edinburgh v Munster|
|Edinburgh (5) 12|
|Tries: Van der Merwe 2 Con: Van der Walt|
|Munster (3) 6|
|Pens: Hanrahan 2|
Duhan van der Merwe scored two tries as Edinburgh recorded their fifth successive Pro14 victory in a scrappy tussle with Munster at Murrayfield.
The South African wing crossed in each half, strengthening Edinburgh's grip on third place in Conference B.
JJ Hanrahan kicked two penalties for Munster, with the province largely impotent in attack.
Richard Cockerill's side move nine points clear of fourth-placed Ulster, who do not play this weekend.
This was a turgid war of attrition, an error-strewn penalty-fest laced with only the merest glimpses of slick attacking rugby.
No matter for Edinburgh, though, a team growing highly adept at winning these brawls under Cockerill, the combative former Leicester Tiger.
The three great pillars of Irish rugby, Leinster, Ulster, and now Munster, the masters of winning ugly, have been toppled since the turn of the year. A play-off berth - a seemingly mountainous task at the start of the season - is now within touching distance.
That it was Magnus Bradbury, the young ex-skipper who was stripped of the captaincy in disgrace five months ago after misbehaving on a night out, who thwarted the final Munster raid on the home line was particularly indicative of Cockerill's influence.
Edinburgh began imbued with the belief claiming such venerable scalps ought to proffer, and thought they had an early breakthrough when Viliame Mata scooped up the ball and loped over from 10 yards.
The big Fijian was penalised, however, and his try disallowed by referee Ben Whitehouse, who ruled Mata had picked up the ball from an offside position.
Instead, Hanrahan booted the first points of an otherwise forgettable opening quarter, notching his first penalty after an Edinburgh transgression on 20 minutes.
The first-half play was ponderous and unimaginative, both sides opting to launch high - and often misplaced - garryowens behind their opponents' defensive line rather than move the ball.
Four minutes before half-time, there came an explosion of quality. Dougie Fife, the Edinburgh full-back, gathered possession in his own 22, and swerved his way neatly through limp Munster tacklers.
Fife raced into masses of open space, before eventually drawing Simon Zebo and releasing the hulking Van der Merwe to stride over the whitewash and give Edinburgh a 5-3 lead at the break.
That advantage evaporated 10 minutes into the second period, Hanrahan again kicking Munster ahead when an Edinburgh carrier was isolated and penalised for holding on.
From the resultant kick-off, the home side's other monster wing, Jason Harries, thundered into Robin Copeland as the Munster eight collected the dropping ball.
The hit was high and hard - only Copeland's crouching motion saved Harries from a red card, rather than the yellow he was shown.
The Welshman's absence scarcely harmed Edinburgh's cause, however, and they soon had a second try chalked off for obstruction after Fife was put in by Chris Dean's basketball-style off-load.
Whitehouse brought play back for a home scrum under the Munster posts, and although Edinburgh made an almighty meal of this field position, they eventually crossed again.
When the forwards were finally done labouring away at the fringe defence, Van der Walt's floated skip pass gave Van der Merwe enough space to plough through Darren Sweetnam and James Hart to score.
This time, Van der Walt converted his compatriot's try, and Edinburgh welcomed back Harries having scored seven points, and conceded none, in his absence.
Van der Walt's replacement, Duncan Weir, failed with a long-range penalty that would have put Edinburgh two scores ahead, but by now, they were winning the breakdown scrap, and suffocating Munster as a result.
In the dying minutes, though, Munster won a penalty and sent the ball into the corner, the forwards assembling for a final assault on Edinburgh's line. They took the line-out and set for a drive, but Bradbury infiltrated their ranks and cocooned the ball for a vital turnover.
Another big win. Another step closer to play-off rugby.
Edinburgh: Dougie Fife; Jason Harries, Mark Bennett, Chris Dean, Duhan van der Merwe; Jaco van der Walt, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; Jordan Lay, Neil Cochrane, Murray McCallum, Fraser McKenzie (capt), Ben Toolis, Magnus Bradbury, John Hardie, Bill Mata.
Replacements: Cameron Fenton (for Cochrane, 74); Rory Sutherland (for Lay, 56); Simon Berghan (for McCallum, 47); Lewis Carmichael (for Toolis, 56); Cornell du Preez (for Mata, 45); Nathan Fowles (for Hidalgo-Clyne, 10); Duncan Weir (for Van der Walt, 60); Junior Rasolea.
Munster: Simon Zebo; Darren Sweetnam, Sammy Arnold, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton; JJ Hanrahan, James Hart; James Cronin, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland (capt); Jack O'Donoghue, Conor Oliver, Robin Copeland.
Replacements: Kevin O'Byrne (for Sherry, 69), Dave Kilcoyne (for Cronin, 50), Brian Scott (for Archer, 69), Darren O'Shea (for Kleyn, 54), Tommy O'Donnell (for Oliver, 54), Jack Stafford, Bill Johnston (for Zebo, 41), Dan Goggin (for Wootton, 30).