independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

We weren't good enough fundamentally to score more tries – Penney

THE wonder this week is whether or not Munster will be able to go to the well again and produce a yet another performance of high drama to rescue their European season.

The positivity that has been a hallmark of coach Rob Penney's first six months in the job must be wearing thin by now, especially when assessing an awful performance against a team who should have been dead and buried inside the first quarter.

He rallied yesterday again, though. "All in all, I've a pretty positive view of the whole situation," he said. "Given we had to come here and play at 12.30, it was always going to be a bit of a challenge."

There is no camouflaging the fact that Munster were made to look ordinary by what is a very average side. Edinburgh huffed and puffed in the first half but were absolutely there for the taking. That Munster didn't accept the clear invitation to put them to the sword could turn out to be a fatal error when the dust settles on next week's fixtures.

Penney, though, highlighted the high-flying record of Edinburgh last season when measuring the value of the four points gained.

"Edinburgh up here was always going to be a tough ask, even to just get the win," he said. "This time last year Edinburgh were flying high in this competition and doing a great job. They are a quality side and they've got a lot of pride.

"We got ourselves into a good, strong position and were able to be a bit more expansive on the back of that. It was just a wee bit disappointing we weren't able to capitalise on some opportunities which we created."

It was surprising that Munster opted to kick for three points so often in the first half instead of trying for seven, although Penney was stout in his defence of the tactics.

"It was critical to get the win first," he said. "You could see when Edinburgh were able to unleash themselves in the latter part of the second half how dangerous they are, and if we hadn't got that buffer it was always going to be a problem.

"So we got the four points, we're in the fight next week and we'll see what happens on the back of that."

One of the few positives for Penney and Munster to take from the game was the performance of the scrum. Dave Kilcoyne, despite his harsh sin-binning, was excellent again and this is surely a facet of the game Munster will look to as a foundation for next weekend's exertions.

"The scrum was great and the boys are very tired. That's a big day at the office for them. They had a pretty dominant performance there, which was pleasing," Penney said.

There was no hiding from the reality of their toothless attack, though, and Penney was forthright when offering a reason for the lack of tries.

"We didn't score more tries because we weren't good enough fundamentally," he said. "Edinburgh just defended brilliantly, they just defended like their lives depended on it and they were a desperate side, they were looking to do everything they could to stop us. We are still in the hunt, though, that's 100pc the positive we are taking from the game."

Next weekend's task is simple for Munster. They have to win and do so scoring tries so as to maximise their chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals. Penney will be relying on the famed 'Thomond Factor' to play its part next Sunday.

"Any team coming to Thomond is going to be in for a good challenging battle and I don't think it'll be any different next week," Penney said.

"In fact, it should be a really exciting Sunday afternoon there with so much at stake on that one fixture."

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