12 Dec, 11:55
Munster A Head Coach Peter Malone has named a strong squad for the vital British and Irish Cup clash against Plymouth Albion at Waterford's Regional Sports Centre tomorrow night (ko 7:30pm).
"One of the most pleasing things about our performance was how we managed the conditions. It was extremely windy, very difficult playing rugby in it and we played into the wind in that opening half and for 41/42 minutes we managed to keep them scoreless. In fact we definitely had the best chance of the first half. We missed an opportunity we would have expected to convert so instead of maybe going in seven nil up we went in three nil down but in the conditions was still a fantastic position to be in."
"Obviously there were issues in the second half that we were disappointed with," he says with a guarded smile that leaves you in no doubt that's he's not talking about opportunites created, and missed by his side.
"They're currently top of the Championship we knew they'd be one of the best teams in the competition. We knew it'd be a tough game. We're very disappointed that we didn't win it. I think when we were 6-3 up we were firmly in control. They were playing into a huge wind. They countered, got to within five metres of our line and the result of it was penalties that led to a penalty try. So very disappointing from that point of view."
Looking forward to another tough encounter - Neath at The Gnoll on Saturday - Costello, who is also Skills Coach with the senior squad, oozes enthusiasm. "I think that's why this is such a good competition. We've an excellent squad, 45/46 players, and these players need to be challenged."
"A number of them played RaboDirect PRO12 in the early stages. Some have performed particularly well. Some probably have a little bit to go yet before they're regular Rabo players. And I think games of these standards, against the likes of the Cornish Pirates and Neath away is a whole new experience again."
"And y'know to go to these places and get a result, like we have done in the past against Coventry & Nottingham, and even when we travelled to Bristol last year, although we lost, you learn a huge amount from that. And some of the guys who were on those trips, three of them played Heineken Cup last Saturday."
"We're obviously trying to be successful in the competition but we're hopefully giving people a standard of rugby and an experience that helps them progress to playing regular RaboDirect PRO12 and Heineken Cup for the senior side."