Doncaster Knights look to have blown their chances of reaching the knock-out stages of the B&I Cup after going down to a 28-12 Pool 2 defeat against Munster A at Castle Park.
The situation is complicated by the fact that London Welsh were disqualified from the competition and qualification will now be based on percentages.
Munster, having recorded three bonus point wins, look to have done enough to make the last eight and Knights realistically need to record bonus point wins in both remaining games to entertain any hope of going through.
That is going to prove a tough ask given that they play the return leg against the in-form Irish side on Friday night when they will need to show more penetration in attack and fewer handling mistakes than on this occasion.
Only full-back Paul Jarvis troubled a Munster side, who defended as well, if not better, than any Championship side to visit Castle Park this season, with ball in hand.
It was the quality of the Munster defence, particularly their line speed, which contributed to Knights – who were often too flat in attack - conceding two tries from interceptions in the third quarter.
Knights started strongly and but for a poor pass from Jarvis, after Munster had repelled a forward drive on their own line, wing Sam Edgerley would have backed himself to score wide out.
With the likes of Mat Clark finding it hard to make ground in his usual fashion, Knights continued to dominate territorially but struggled to turn pressure into points until No 8 Jarad Williams ran strongly to touch down out wide following good work in the lineout by Glen Young to claim his first try for the club on 17 minutes.
Fly-half Simon Humberstone tagged on the extras to make it 7-0.
The Irish side also came under pressure from a Jarvis-Edgerley move before they started to impose themselves in attack in the last ten minutes or so of the half and, after several spells of pressure, drew level with a close-range converted try by flanker Gavin Coombes on 34 minutes.
No 8 Robin Copeland powered his way over two minutes after the break to give his side a 14-7 lead they never looked like losing.
Two long-range interception tries from passes by Edgerley and Humberstone respectively in five minutes saw Munster storm into a 28-7 lead by the end of the third quarter.
Keen to impress after making a rare start, Edgerley made amends with a superb solo effort on 66 minutes. He jinked his way into space after latching on to Declan Cusack’s kick, kicked ahead and showed blistering pace to win the race to the ball before it went dead.
Knights kept plugging awa but it was Munster who came closest to another try.
Doncaster Knights: Jarvis, Bulumakau, Hayes, Clark, Edgerley; Humberstone, Heaney; List, Bergmanas, Quigley, Taylor, Young, Ram, Hills, Williams. Rep: Hislop, Nelson, John, Challoner, Owen, Cusack, White.
Munster A: Johnston, Nash, Arnold, Goggin, O’Shea; Toma, Polard; McCabe,O’Byrne, Scott, Wycherley, Mintern, O’Callaghan, Coombes, Copeland. Rep: O’Brien, O’Connor, Burke, Coffey, Fallon, Bohane, Fitzgerald.