“You’ve Got To Be Very Accurate Against A Team That All They Want [To Do] Is Box-Kick.”
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Same old story.
Munster Rugby and semi-final heartbreak in the same sentence – it’s getting a bit tiresome for everyone at this stage, isn’t it?
But unfortunately, it’s going to be the tune again for the week with Johann van Graan’s side coming out second best once again to Leinster this evening in their PRO14 semi-final clash at the Aviva.
The men in red dominated possession for much of the game and spent a lot of time in Leinster’s 22, particularly in the first half. But chances went untaken with Munster finishing the game on a paltry 3 points to Leinster’s 13.
And let’s be honest – Leinster were by no means at their best. Munster had plenty of chances and they failed to take them. Once again they go their tactics wrong, with Leinster boss Leo Cullen making that pretty clear in his post-match interview.
Leo, like all of us, wasn’t exactly impressed with Munster’s overuse of the box-kick.
“It was brutal, one for the purists for sure. You’ve got to be very accurate against a team that all they want [to do] is box-kick and apply that pressure game so it’s tricky, and there’s the interpretation around the ruck – that favours the defensive team probably more,” Cullen said after the game.
“It wasn’t a great spectacle out there but for us, it’s about winning a semi-final. This is our third game of the season. For some of the guys there, it’s their second game. It was pretty ugly stuff, an ugly contest but we’re through.
“Munster probably missed a couple of chances but we’re through and it’s on to the next challenge. We’ll watch with great interest how Edinburgh and Ulster go. It was always going to be a bit of a dogfight after the heavens opened up before the game – but it was just about getting through, really.”
When asked for his reaction to Cullen’s comments around his side’s box-kicking, van Graan replied:
“Yeah, I’ve got a good relationship with Leo. They stuck to their box-kicking as well.”
As for the two massive JJ Hanrahan penalty misses that could have changed things for Munster in the second half, van Graan admitted they were crucial but refused to put the blame on his out-half
“Yeah, look, they were crucial,” van Graan said.
“We had limited opportunities in a semi-final and we didn’t convert our opportunities. But, you know, we as a group, we win together and we lose together. We’ll take those penalties as a group.
“I thought we built a lot of pressure between the 50th and 65th minute, and then we didn’t convert those chances. Leinster went down the other side of the pitch and went up 13-3. We had an opportunity on the 77th minute to get that maul try and they stopped it.”