Munster head coach Graham Rowntree has admitted he struggles to find positives, despite only losing to arch-rivals Leinster by the slimmest of margins in a clash tense at the United Rugby Championship at Thomond Park last night.
7-6 ahead at the break thanks to a converted finish from Gavin Coombes, Southern Province were in a strong position to secure their first home victory at the expense of Leo Cullen’s men in just under four years. Max Deegan’s simultaneous sin provided them with further incentive, but Leinster instead turned the screw thanks to tries from Scott Penny and Dan Sheehan.
A five-point Patrick Campbell left the bare minimum between the sides, but Munster found themselves on the back foot for the closing minutes and had to settle for a losing bonus point at the end.
“I’m really fighting for the positive at the moment. Without a lot of territory and position on the pitch, at half time we were in the game. Doing a lot of things well. In the third quarter, we got a good penalty try. Then they had a guy in the trash and then we conceded two soft tries. I can’t coat more than that,” Rowntree admitted in a post-match interview with the former player. Munster Marcus Horan on TG4.
“Two soft tries that we never recovered from, if I’m being honest with you. Towards the end, our management of the game, we have to look at that. We didn’t quite stick to the plan, but we will in the cold light of the weekday, when I’ve calmed down a bit. They are the league leaders for a reason. It’s an exceptional team. It’s not about comparing ourselves to them.
“We have to see what we can do better. We simply cannot concede these trials. We talked about it. Dennis [Leamy] talked about it during the week. We will look at this. We have a short deadline now. We’re in Belfast in six days [to face Ulster]. We’ll have to take a look at the game. Let’s sort out what we can and move on. From Leinster’s perspective, the game represented a 10th straight URC triumph this season. Having already gotten the better of their inter-provincial counterparts at the Aviva Stadium last October, the Blues are now all 24 points clear of 11th-placed Munster.
Nonetheless, it certainly hasn’t been easy for Leinster, who have been denied a bonus point for only the third time in the current campaign. Garry Ringrose again managed the visitors in the absence of Jonathan Sexton and delivered another assured performance at outside centre.
After overcoming the early dismissal of Cian Healy to record a 38-29 win over Munster in the RDS earlier this month, Ringrose hailed the determination Leinster continue to show in the face of adversity.
“Sometimes, as difficult as it is, when times like this [Deegan’s sin-binning] sometimes it will catapult or galvanize you into action. Luckily we managed to start and that was a credit to the forwards stepping up the way they did,” Ringrose told TG4.
“It’s probably a bit to the credit of the training we do and the coaches. They put us to the test during the week to challenge you every time you go out. You are tested in games as intense as this to enter this dark place. I was really proud of the guys that everyone dug into.
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