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'Tyler did brilliantly' - Bleyendaal steps up after Carbery injury in Edinburgh

The 28-year-old slotted a crucial conversion after Keith Earls’ second try.

THE SIGHT OF Joey Carbery departing injured after just 35 minutes in Murrayfield on Saturday filled many Munster fans with worry.

While the 23-year-old’s creative streak was missed, it turned out that the man who replaced him at out-half brought vital composure to proceedings.

Tyler Bleyendaal, so plagued by injuries in recent seasons, had one of his best performances in Munster colours for some time as the province beat Edinburgh to secure a Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens.

Johann van Graan and Tyler Bleyendaal celebrate winning Johann van Graan with Tyler Bleyendaal after Munster beat Edinburgh. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Bleyendaal’s right-hand touchline conversion of Keith Earls’ winning try was crucial in giving Munster breathing room as it forced Edinburgh to chase a try, rather than a penalty or drop goal, in the closing minutes.

Having edged ahead of JJ Hanrahan for Munster’s sub out-half spot for this game, there were many other positive contributions from Bleyenaal including accurate passing, solid tackling and strong line-kicking, as well as a successful penalty shot at goal.

Bleyendaal rescued an overthrow at the Munster lineout to kickstart Earls’ try and then ran a vital decoy line just before the right wing was released by Chris Farrell for his score in the corner.

The 28-year-old out-half, who recently extended his contract with Munster until June 2021, can reflect on a thoroughly positive impact.

“He’s struggled a lot with injury over the last couple of seasons, so it is great to see him come into a big game and I thought he managed it really well,” said Munster centre Rory Scannell.

“The kicking game, that overthrown lineout led to the score and getting Earlsy in the corner.”

Munster will be hopeful that Carbery’s hamstring injury won’t keep him sidelined in the coming weeks, with the playmaker having only returned for the Edinburgh clash after seven weeks out of action.

Tyler Bleyendaal Bleyendaal was composed at out-half. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

But if Carbery does need more time to remedy the issue, Bleyendaal’s performance at Murrayfield provides reassurance.

“We had a long chat about his future a few weeks ago,” said Munster coach Johann van Graan of Bleyendaal. “We have four quality fly-halves at Munster [including Bill Johnston] and everybody is up for the fight in a positive way to make sure that we get the best out of them.

“Between JJ and Tyler it was a big call to make this week, obviously JJ was really disappointed and Tyler was happy, and he took the responsibility on himself and to come through is brilliant for the team. 

“I can’t stress the team effort enough. Even Fineen [Wycherley] and JJ, who were here with the squad, everybody just wants to contribute in whatever way and I believe it shows in the big moments.”

Munster also lost Jack O’Donoghue during their quarter-final win, with the openside suffering a head injury, but his replacement – Arno Botha – also delivered a strong performance.

Even the late pre-game shuffle – with Mike Haley dropping out through illness, Andrew Conway shifting to 15 and Darren Sweetnam coming in on the wing – didn’t greatly affect Munster.

“Obviously, Joey and Jack are very disappointed that they had to come off the field,” said van Graan of the injured players. “Even Mikey stayed behind at the hotel, so I can’t even imagine how he’s feeling.

“I think it’s the beauty of our squad. I don’t know if you saw the moment when Joey walked off and Tyler came on. Everybody knows it was next man up and Tyler did brilliantly.”

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Murray Kinsella

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