In the immediate aftermath of Munster's narrow defeat last Friday coach Rob Penney was in upbeat form when he gave the media his reaction to the performance.
"I was proud of the boys. They worked their hearts out. We didn’t play perfect rugby by any means. But can't fault their endeavour. Obviously the result in a tight match can go either way. It wasn’t on our side of the ledger today. Some good things happened and we can grow from this."
And his take on that end-game as Munster looked to be trying to work the space for a drop goal? "They defended it well, were getting a bit of line speed on us and we obviously didn’t feel comfortable to have a crack. That’s probably a little bit of our management of that situation to a degree. But you also have to have a look at what the opposition were doing. They did a good job to shut that opportunity down."
Nor did the loss of an early lead overly concern him. "Nine points can be absorbed pretty quickly nowadays. The kickers are so accurate you only have to give away a couple of penalties and all of a sudden things change. I was rapt with the effort that went in the whole time. When we were down to fourteen men I thought our commitment to defence was terrific. Those sorta things, when you’re down to fourteen and you’re working hard, can just take the edge off you and take the edge off your attack later on. And we just ran out of fuel I think a little bit and with that some of our decision making was probably not quite as accurate as we needed it to be. But we were close and it could easily have been the other way around."
"So we were happy with our start. There was a couple of opportunities, one in particular, where if we’d been a bit smarter we might have got another try. And we didn’t and all of a sudden they came back get a couple of penalties and it’s tight again."
He was also happy with the way his side defended. "When a team plays a bit narrower on you they’ll retain possession but don’t necessarily breach. I think we only got breached three times in the game. Our defence was robust. We had to put up with some phases but I don’t think they were overly threatening. So you don’t get the ball but you’re not under threat from having points scored against you."
His thoughts on the scrum? "Initially we were under a little bit of pressure. We’re still getting used to the cadence of the set call from the referee. Alain (Rolland) tonight was a little slower than what we’ve had. So that’s just us adjusting. Technically we were fine. When we both got and even hit it was a good contest and both sides were relatively capable of retaining possession on their own ball.I thought we got better as the game went on and maybe had an ounce of pressure on them at times.
"I know Mark (Ainscomb) well. They played the type of footy that I thought they would and got the result. They did a good job on Munster last year at Thomond Park so they would have been preparing for a good battle.
I hope our boys earned a wee bit of respect out of their performance tonight."
And it was an environment that will benefit his side? "Every opportunity and every experience is unique in its own way and there are things that you can only learn on the footy track. We’ve got some young men here and they’re learning rapidly. I think there’s things you can’t coach and that was evident tonight. About how hard they’re prepared to work for each other which is something we’re seeing in this group often. We just got to build on our rugby knowledge, our rugby experience."
"This experience tonight is just going to add another layer to their knowledge and depth going forward."