Coughlan sings praises of Reds' new generation for stepping up to the mark
JAMES COUGHLAN heralded Munster's victory as a beginning for their new generation of players.
Coughlan put in another magnificent shift at the base of the Munster scrum, which earned him a belated call-up to the Ireland Six Nations squad.
He said the performance and result mark a landmark moment in the development of Rob Penney's Munster. "Is this a landmark result? I think so. We've spoken about the need for players to take ownership of this and I think we did that today," Coughlan said.
"Now is our time to step up and start dictating things. I think we did that today."
Coughlan lauded Munster's composure for the majority of the game, especially after the frenetic start to the contest.
"When they had their player sent off I think we lost the run of ourselves a little. We just went about trying to throw the kitchen sink at them and it backfired on us.
"We gave away three penalties and free-kicks at scrum time and were a little disjointed. But once we settled down and got a grip of things we were fine.
"Scoring the third try before half-time also helped hugely because we were able to be a little more relaxed in the second half, secure in the knowledge that one more would do us.
"That brought a little calmness and allowed us to play some rugby and go through our plays with confidence."
Munster's win knocked their nemesis Leinster out of the competition, but Coughlan insisted that thought played no part in their preparations.
"That never came up with us. All it means is that a quality side is out of the competition, a quality side we won't have to face now. That's as much as it is.
"We were focused on what we could control, which was our own performance. The improvements were there in how we played the game.
"We took responsibility for our own performances. We cut down on our individual error counts and you saw the benefit as a result."
The reward for Munster is an away trip to The Stoop for a quarter-final date with Harlequins.
"Harlequins have a fantastic record. They're six from six in their pool and are really consistent and impressive under Conor (O'Shea).
"That'll be a huge game and a massive opportunity. We won't lack motivation having been beaten by them in the Amlin semi-final here (Thomond), but that's for another day.
"For now, it's the satisfaction that we've done what we can. It's a big relief for us as individuals and as a group and we'll look forward to the next challenge when it arises," Coughlan added.