Analysis: Tadhg Beirne's workrate is second to none in a weak Munster performance 9 months ago

Analysis: Tadhg Beirne's workrate is second to none in a weak Munster performance

There were not a lot of positives to take from Munster's 37-13 hiding at the hands of the Cardiff Blues last Friday night.

The Blues had lost three consecutive games heading into the match, two of which were at the hands of Treviso and Zebre. Munster named a very strong team with 11 internationals in their starting XV, while they also welcomed back British & Irish Lions number eight CJ Stander back into the starting fold in what was his first start of the season. They had destroyed the Ospreys in their previous game in Cork so they were on a high after a dismal showing against Glasgow the week before.

Johan van Graan's side started well at Cardiff Arms Park with Andrew Conway touching down for a two try brace in the opening 15 minutes but things quickly started to unravel for the visitors in the second-half as Cardiff ran in 23 points unanswered to secure a comfortable bonus point win.

Some of the statistics are quite telling. Four tries to two in favour of Cardiff. 12 clean breaks to Munster's five. 16 missed tackles compared to 20.

This is a side that had the best defence in the PRO14 last season and the best defence of any side in Europe through six Champions Cup Pool games.

Munster were abhorrent defensively against Cardiff with Blues inside centre Willis Halaholo exposing the province's defence on a number of occasions while they were inconsistent in attack with good periods of play often overshadowed by sloppy mistakes in good field position.

Joey Carbery had some nice touches, and some questionable decisions, CJ Stander made four metres off nine carries as he adjusts back to the pace after an extended break, the scrum dominated Cardiff at times and was later dominated by Cardiff, while Tadhg Beirne was one of the few Munster players that could walk away from the Welsh capital with his head held high.

Beirne's physical statistics were decent; five runs for seven metres, 11 tackles with one missed tackle, one turnover won, but we'll start with the plays that can't exactly be accounted for, namely, his effort.

Ironically, of all the talk of Joey Carbery transitioning from full-back to fly-half this season, his best play of the game came from fielding a Gareth Anscombe up and under at the back before finding a gap in the Cardiff defence and taking off down the pitch.

It's an incredible piece of play from Carbery but notice the effort that Beirne makes in staying with the 22-year-old. The clip above cuts short but after the ball pops up Beirne quickly dives on it and wins possession back for Munster. Less than 90 seconds later and Conway is over again in the corner for the visitors' second try of the game.

Before his arrival last summer, van Graan was looking forward to Beirne's all-round ability but specifically highlighted his proficiency at the breakdown.

“Look, I’ve never met him but he seems a fantastic guy and an unbelievable rugby player at this stage.

"He’s almost getting man of the match every single time he plays and it’s not only his breakdown steals it his all-round abilities, and I’m very glad we’re getting him."

Beirne has three turnovers in three games already this season, which is not surprising given the fact that he set a PRO14 record last season (since 2010/11) with 39 turnovers for the Scarlets, but it's a great factor to have in the second-row given just how good at poaching Peter O'Mahony and Chris Cloete are on the flanks for Munster.

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In the pre-season van Graan praised Beirne for his poaching, his varied skillset and his footwork, attributes that were noticeable to him from the training sessions in Limerick.

"He is a multi-skilled rugby player," the South African said of his new recruit.

"I think the most impressive thing that I saw is his natural feel for the game. He just stepped into the first training session and he is one of those players that believes he can play wing or full-back as well, he will still be special.

"His running of the lineout will be key to us, his poaching ability is well-documented, but the things I didn't know is his feet, his movement in contact.

"Some examples, like the try he scored against Bath last year in the Champions Cup, hopefully he can reproduce some of that form.

"We are very lucky to have him and very excited to have him now that he is going to play for Munster."

Beirne's skills are clear to see but so is his effort, especially in a side that is getting played off the park.

In the clip below we can see the Ireland second-row throw a pass in front of Jean Kleyn who is buried by Cardiff number eight Nick Williams off the ball.

JJ Hanrahan shows great instincts to pick the ball up before it hits the ground but once again we can see Beirne recognise the break and sprint towards the ball carrier where he cleans out scrum-half Tomos Williams to secure possession.

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Beirne made 11 tackles and four of the tackles were made in a period of 45 seconds while Munster were trailing by 17 points with just under five minutes left to play.

It's a testament to Beirne's workrate, fitness and standards that he maintained such a high intensity when there was nothing left to play for other than pride.

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Munster conceded another try over a minute later after Williams caught replacement prop David Kilcoyne around the fringes of the ruck but Beirne can hold his head high after another very solid performance.

Johan van Graan has a lot to work on after early losses to Glasgow and Cardiff but at least in Beirne he will take solace in the fact that he has an excellent player with an even better attitude.