Rash Conor Murray decision that cost Joey Carbery and Munster dearly
This partnership will surely flourish in time, but Conor Murray's rash solo play did Joey Carbery no favours.
Conor Murray has enough credit in the bank to cover him for quite a while but he made the wrong call at the end of the first half in Munster's Champions Cup defeat, away to Castres.
With the hosts under severe pressure and penalised metres from the posts, and Rory Kockott headed to the sin-bin, Munster had a few options. They could have kicked for an attacking lineout or scrummed down and Joey Carbery would have welcomed a simple kick for goal. The outhalf had missed a couple of kicks but this would have put Munster just 10-9 behind and saw them start the second half with a man advantage for the guts of 10 minutes.
On the latest episode of Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby [from 5:00 below] Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble discussed Carbery's patchy kicking returns and the Murray call that backfired badly.
As you can see (clip above), with the clock at 42:23, Murray opted for a quick-tap of the penalty. He was banking on Castres' 14 men being out on their feet. Chris Cloete was on the charge and Murray backed the No.7.
The problem here was that most of the Munster pack were off Murray's left shoulder. Stander was the only other forward switched on. Cloete went into contact and only Sammy Arnold was there to clear out. Stander had to step around the tackler and was there a shade late.
Munster recycled from here but they were already on the back foot and they were penalised at the next phase. It was a huge boost for Castres and the home crowd.
Munster decision making there... Scrum penalty after scrum penalty... They have a man put in the bin and we tap and go quick? That's unforgivable. On such decisions are games often won or lost. #COvMUN
— Cormac Nyhan (@cormacnyhan) December 15, 2018
Murphy and Trimble went back over the decision to start Carbery and that Murray call. Former Munster and Ireland centre Murphy noted how there were a lot of 'Captain Hindsight' commenters on social media after Munster's 13-12 loss. He said:
"A lot of people were wondering if JJ or Joey should have started or whether they should have let Rory Scannell have a pop at goal, given his recent kicking form in matches. A lot of tough decisions for the coaches to make."
Trimble agreed it was tough on JJ Hanrahan, dropping to the bench after his man of the match performance last weekend, but he can see why the fresh Carbery was given the 10 jersey and the kicking duties.
"Captain Hindsight again, but not a great game for someone of Joey's outhalf style to play, whereas JJ - because he has been playing a lot for Munster recently - he is used to those sort of conditions. He's played a lot of games this season and is an experienced player, at 26. You can further make the argument that he could have started but it's such a tough decision.
"If Joey had gone and kicked that penalty before half-time for Munster... they took a quick tap when they could have taken the three points that (ultimately) would have won them the game. They'll look back on that and they'll be their worst critics."
Conor Murray has scored, and set up, some crucial tries over the years when he has backed his instinct.
It does not always come off and while Carbery and Munster would have hungrily accepted the kick at goal, Johann van Graan will surely not come down too hard on his No.9.
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