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02nd Jun 2024

Graham Rowntree “delighted” as Munster eye back-to-back URC titles

Ronan Calvert

Munster URC

Munster don’t do things the easy way.

Munster are on course to retain their United Rugby Championship crown.

That’s after a home comeback win against Ulster secured Graham Rowntree‘s men a place at the top of the regular season table.

A home quarter-final against Ospreys awaits on Friday and, unlike last season, home comforts could be enjoyed all the way to the title.

“We don’t do things easy, do we?” remarked Rowntree to Limerick Live after a topsy-turvy game.

“Credit to them (Ulster), they came to play and grew into the game. We made some individual errors there, they capitalised, they scored off them.

“Halftime was about staying calm and they came back in the third quarter, a missed tackle from John Hodnett and they were through.

“We found a way, it’s an overused expression, but we found a way to win the game.”

Rowntree went on to analyse the impact of Munster’s 6/2 bench which allowed them to bring on Oli Jager, Tom Ahern, Gavin Coombes and John Hodnett all at the same time.

Their impact was crucial and their head coach knows it.

“The bench was big again,” said Rowntree. “When you go 6/2 (forwards/backs) and lose a back in the first half, we were still brave around the 45 minute mark bringing four forwards on.

“I couldn’t really bring Conor (Murray) on any earlier than we did, but overall, I think it worked, the punch that our bench gave us. It really stood to us. I’m happy with it.”

But it wasn’t all perfect from Munster. Although they prevailed in an entertaining but poor contest, there are obvious needs for improvement in advance of the knockout rounds.

Munster’s defence was particularly porous as Ulster ran in three soft tries which would have proven costly on another day.

Discipline was another issue, with Rowntree quick to point out individual errors by his players.

“Our discipline was poor…Jack Crowley, by his own admission, in the side of ruck, it’s a penalty, they go in the corner, they break down the front of the maul.

“Then he kicks a ball directly out from a goalline drop-out. They’re just individual errors, which he’ll recover from, and he did in the game.

“When we get the ball in their ’22, we were forcing things, forcing passes, we just lacked a bit of composure. Half-time was about being calm.

“There’s plenty of bits to review, but a lot of our errors were individual errors, and then it was composure in the last 10 metres of the field.

“I’m delighted with our attitude there, we went for the corner, mauled them over, our scrum was in good nick and we used it as a good platform for penalties. It will stand to us.

“It wasn’t perfect, we go into the play-offs Friday night, we have a few sore bodies, we’ll see how they pulled through and name a team in the middle of the week.”

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