Munster Player Ratings
Published 07/04/2014 | 02:30
Many locals would have preferred had the Seapoint man been cast out; a stout defensive display, highlighted by a tackle that almost dismembered his opposite number, silenced many doubters.
Slowly recovering the type of peak form expected of a player who grew up shadowed by this famous stadium; his calm finish at the outset settled his nerves, not to mention those of team-mates and fans.
Relied less upon the Hail Mary offloads and more upon the mere devotion to fulfilling the team mantra served upon the day, one that sought to do every little thing simply and well. Tackled demonically.
A player who sums up Munster's fitful spirits this term; so much has been expected but the final product has proved elusive. Feeling persists that the Reds have a more effective attacking 10-12 axis.
Like Earls, slowly recovering his poise and confidence after frustrations with injury, the return of his goose-stepping giddiness is good news for the sport in general and Munster in particular.
O'Connell referenced the importance of the early place-kicks; Penney highlighted the general influence with which he directed his team. A red- letter day in the north Dubliner's career.
While allowances must be moderated by pity for Toulouse, Murray's display still drew breath. He strode the stage like a colossus and was directly responsible for three of the crucial early blows.
Still the nagging suggestion that the 'Killer' moniker can be a tad too appropriate, but then what is a contemporary Irish loose-head without a bit of wildness?
Was struggling all week with foot issues so to put in the shift he did represented a voluble tribute to his indefatigable spirit; secure line-out work ensured Munster's maul reaped just reward.
His old Springbok adversary caused him endless problems, not always, if ever, by the book but by the end of the piece he was utterly dominant, regardless of any skulduggery employed.
One of the emerging forces of this Munster outfit, Foley has been charged with taming his discipline, not only in penalty concessions but in activity at rucks. Both elements combined to good effect here.
That he was still looking for work – albeit joking that he was also still looking at the clock – when scoring a late try, reflects the extraordinary levels of fitness he has reached. Early steal set tone.
So stunning for him to receive a sickening blow to the shoulder after that early line-out steal, particularly as the pre-match concern had centred on his hamstring. Team wobbled but coped without him.
Improved on his virtually anonymous display a week earlier, when his failed impression mirrored that of his team-mates. And, like Munster, he will need to improve upon this display too.
Sentiment dictates that he should probably get the Ireland cap so many sterling European performances deserve; that will not happen and Heineken Cup opponents are feeling the brunt of it.
CJ Stander (9) His 10 significant carries and 10 tackles, his team's highest, revealed all.
Duncan Casey (6) Earning exposure at such exalted atmosphere is a huge boon for this exciting young talent, who carried well.
Donncha O'Callaghan (5) His experience is a huge asset on the bench, particularly in tighter games.
JJ Hanrahan (6) The suspicion lingers that Munster are a more enigmatic outfit when they manage to accommodate both Hanrahan and Keatley.
Gerhard van den Heever (6) The South African can frighten tiring defences.
John Ryan, Duncan Williams Not on long enough to be rated.
Destined to produce an incremental improvement in performance year on year, which makes his careless ditching – regardless of who pulled the trigger – seem even more slapdash than it did at the time.
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