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20th Apr 2019

Johann van Graan: We will be back here

Jack O'Toole

Munster Rugby head coach Johann van Graan has said that his team will be back next season after losing 32-16 to Saracens in their Champions Cup semi-final on Saturday.

Owen Farrell kicked six penalties while two tries from Mike Rhodes and Billy Vunipola were enough to see Saracens through to another Champions Cup final. For Munster it’s yet another defeat in the last four of Europe and van Graan admits that his side were just beaten by a better team in Coventry.

“We weren’t good enough on the day, we got beaten by the better team,” said van Graan at the post-match press conference.

“No excuses from our side. They have been playing some fantastic rugby both in the Premiership and Europe. Like I said they’ve blown everyone out of this competition at this stage and from our side we gave it all we got.

“We planned well throughout this whole campaign. From our side we see getting to another semi-final as a huge positive. We didn’t come here today to lose. In sport a lot of time you’ve got to look your opponent in the eye and I said to Mark [McCall] we tried to tough up until half-time and then you guys were just better in the next 13 minutes and I think we have to concede that we weren’t as good as the opposition on the day but we’ll be back.

“We’ll be back in Europe next year and we’ll have to get past the pool stage to get into the play-offs again and that’ll be the first thing but it’s a competition that we as a club love and a special mention to all of our fans who travel all over the world and they back this team through massive wins.

“It’s a pity we couldn’t get the result but as a club we’ll move forward.”

Munster conceded 12 penalties to Saracen’s eight penalties and club captain Peter O’Mahony insisted that it was the area’s of the pitch that they conceded those penalties that ultimately cost his side.

“They scored a lot of points in the first 20 minutes of the first-half and the first 20 of the second-half but we struggled with them for the first 15 or 20 minutes of the second-half and that was probably the turning of the game,” said O’Mahony.

“I’m not going to say discipline was the reason we lost the game, it certainly wasn’t, but the areas that we conceded the penalties with the way that Owen was knocking them over was it was going to be difficult and it certainly was out there.”