A bonus point start to the British & Irish Cup for tees up Munster nicely for their next outing against Bristol in Nenngh Rugby Club on Friday
Last Friday night in Coventry, Munster raced into an early lead thanks to making the most of limited opportunity and every bit as pleasing for assisant Ian Costello was the manner in which his charges defended when the home side came looking for what could have been the equalising score.
Munster, with tries from the impressive Duncan Williams, skipper JamesCoughlan and centre Tom Gleeson were 15-3 up at half time and that situation improved minutes after the restart when Ian Nagle scored their fourth.
And when Coventry prop Scott Roberts barged over from a rolling maul with 12 minutes remaining there still seemed no need to sound the panic alarm. Then just before end of normal time hooker Joe Merrigan was driven over from a close-in line-out and now Coventry’s tails were up and unbeknowst to anyone there was to be a further seven minutes of added time.
"Yes, we had to defend very very strongly to keep them out," Costello acknowledged, " and in fairness to the lads in the last ten, fifteen minutes they showed great character. I know they (Coventry) scored late and we’d been under pressure for about 15 minutes before that as well.
"Physically they were definitely a bigger side than we were. They played clever rugby, getting themselves into parts of the field where they could use their maul and they had a very effective maul. I don’t know really if we took our foot off the gas after we got that fourth try. Sometimes I suppose that can happen."
Costello also accepted that for periods of the game Munster had to play second fiddle. "We probably scored two tries against the run of play but we created a few half chances and finished them very very well so we’re quite pleased with that. But to be fair they had the lion share of possession and territory. We came out the second half scored very early and thought we’d kick on from there but with twenty minutes to go they dominated the game and to the finish it was all them.
Costello attributes the strong Coventry end-game to size and skill. " Physically they were definitely a bigger side than we were. They played clever rugby, getting themselves into parts of the field where they could use their maul and they had a very effective maul. I don’t know really if we took our foot off the gas after we got that fourth try. Sometimes I suppose that can happen.They scored two late push over tries, obviously we’d have liked to have been out of sight but credit to them they came back at us very strongly."
But what was particulrly pleasing to Munster management was the way Munster went about their task. "The attitude was outstanding." enthused Costello. " The approach the lads took. The intensity they brought to the game was all top class. We didn’t get enough possession. We were living off limited ball. But to get five points on your first away trip we’d be very pleased with that."
Munster: F Jones (A Burke 80 min); D Barnes, T Gleeson, S Deasy,D Hurley; D Cusack (S Zebo 73 min), D Williams (P Rowley 56 min); J Brugnaut (D Kilcoyne 52 min), M Sherry, S Archer (D Kilcoyne temp); I Nagle, D Foley; N Williams (D O’Callaghan 78 min), N Ronan, J Coughlan capt P O’Mahony 75 min).