Sport Rugby

Sunday 26 March 2017

McGahan rues poor attitude on Thomond's darkest day

Munster 12
Harlequins 20
AMLIN challenge CUP SEMI-FINAL

Ian Bransfield

"It was inaccuracy, it was concentration, it was a whole number of things," sighed a dejected Tony McGahan when asked to make sense of his side's humbling defeat against Harlequins on Saturday.

The Munster coach is growing accustomed to semi-final defeats (now four in succession), but they're not getting any easier to accept, and particularly so against a Quins side who lie seventh in the English Premiership.

The sun shone around Limerick all afternoon, but this will go down as one of the darker days Thomond Park has experienced.

Only once before in the 16-year history of European Cup rugby had the proud citadel been breached, against the Tigers in 2007, but for many, this particular defeat will be more difficult to swallow.

Conor O'Shea's side didn't arrive with any of the same European Cup pedigree boasted by Leicester four seasons ago, yet they bullied Munster from the off and thoroughly deserved their victory.

"It just came down to attitude," McGahan lamented. "We needed to muscle up around the contact areas. We were beaten at defence of our ball. We were beaten at the breakdown on their ball.

opportunity

"The way we played, we didn't give ourselves any opportunity whatsoever to get a result."

In the end, the scoreline flattered a Munster side who, over the course of the 80 minutes, looked a shadow of their former selves.

The worst of the damage was done in the first half, during which Quins had 72pc of the possession and registered two converted tries.

Felix Jones, one of the few Munster players to impress, replied with a try for his side just before the interval, but the twice Heineken Cup champions failed to score again until the dying embers of the second half, by which stage Quins already had one foot in the final.

The officiating of referee Roman Poite didn't help Munster's cause, but McGahan knew his problems went deeper than that.

"In different circumstances, I would probably make a comment on that (the referee)," he said.

"But I don't think that it is correct or proper to make any comment given the way that we played... it was like a training run for them at times."

For Quins, a place in the final against Stade Francais in Cardiff is their prize, while for McGahan and Co the post mortem is likely to be a long and painful process.

Munster -- F Jones; D Howlett, L Mafi, P Warwick (S Tuitupou h-t), K Earls (J Murphy 65); R O'Gara (capt), C Murray (P Stringer 57); W du Preez (M Horan 57), D Varley (M Sherry 73), T Buckley (J Hayes h-t); D O'Callaghan (D Ryan 68), M O'Driscoll (P O'Connell h-t); D Leamy, D Wallace, J Coughlan.

Harlequins -- M Brown; G Camacho, G Lowe, J Turner-Hall, U Monye; N Evans (R Clegg 44), D Care; J Marler (C Jones 67), J Gray, J Johnston; O Kohn (T Vallejos 44), G Robson; M Fa'asavalu, C Robshaw (capt), N Easter.

Ref -- R Poite (France).

Irish Independent

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