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14th Nov 2023

“Having played with Graham Rowntree, I know that he’ll be absolutely disgusted with their set-piece.”

Niall McIntyre

Johne Murphy believes his former team-mate Graham Rowntree will have been disgusted with Munster’s set-piece during their 21-14 loss to Ulster at the weekend.

Munster started well, racing into a 14-3 lead after 18 minutes but were held scoreless from there until the end of the game.

Two tries from the returning Craig Casey had given Munster the lead early on but Jacob Stockdale brought Ulster back into it with a try after 26 minutes and Ulster took over after half-time.

Munster suffered some set-piece difficulties throughout the game, both at scrum-time and line-out time, and this was never more apparent than in the game’s 67th minute, when Nick Timoney got over for the match-winning try.

A powerful Ulster scrum saw Timoney over the line, with Munster clearly second best in that facet of the game.

Speaking on this week’s House of Rugby, former Munster player Johne Murphy explained why head coach Graham Rowntree will have been so disappointed with his side’s display.

“Munster were off,” said Murphy, who played with Rowntree for five years at Leicester Tigers.

“Ulster controlled the air, which is uncharacteristic of Munster to allow that to happen. I do think that’s down to a reaction from Ulster to losing to Connacht, and you have to have the physical edge going up to Ravenhill anyway.”

“But having had a good start, it was just a frustrating evening for Munster,” continued Murphy.

Lining out without Jean Kleyn, RG Snyman and Peter O’Mahony was always going to have an impact on their line-out, and former Ireland player Lindsay Peat says that their struggles come down to confidence.

“It can be an area of confidence.

“Johne made a good point about the fellas who have to come back in, but at the same time these are fellas who have played together before,” she said.

“Diarmuid Barron has played a season. I can understand Graham Rowntree’s disappointment. The thing with the line-out is just win the ball. Sometimes we make it complicated it. If you’re winning it at two, throw it to two.”

“It could be an adjustment period for those guys,” added Murphy.

“Having played with Graham Rowntree however, I know that he’ll be absolutely disgusted with their set-piece, both at scrum and line-out time. It’s a big work-on for them.”

“Peter is obviously a key driver in that area, as well as Kleyn. So they do have more guys to get stuck into that. I think it’s a big two weeks to get used to the provincial calls. The other provinces were bang on, where Munster were probably were just a bit off.”

“Their accuracy was off. Of the main guys coming back in from the World Cup, you’d probably be most disappointed with the Munster guys.

“They just didn’t look as slick. And it was on a surface that should have suited them in terms of how they want to play (expansively) but all-in-all, very disappointing.”


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