Thursday 8 December 2016

Consistency essential for season run-in

Ian Costello

Published 01/05/2015 | 02:30

Tommy O’Donnell goes over to score Munster’s third try during their victory against Treviso at Irish Independent Park last weekend
Tommy O’Donnell goes over to score Munster’s third try during their victory against Treviso at Irish Independent Park last weekend

Even though we took five points last weekend, we weren't satisfied with the performance. We set out with a specific game-plan and certain objectives but came up short in certain aspects of the game.

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You want to keep building towards the big games. It's very frustrating that we put in a big performance against Edinburgh one week and, despite the result, underperformed the following week.

We need to be establishing a consistency and building on that towards Ulster, Dragons and the knockout games hopefully for two weeks after that.

We're disappointed with the manner in which we played because we prepared well. We approached the game mentally, physically and tactically the way we should have. But on the night we didn't play with the required intensity, both in attack and defence.

There wasn't the same energy around our game that we had been showing over the previous couple of weeks and that is disappointing.

Our attack is very much based on winning possession, generating quick ball and playing at a high tempo.

On the flip side, our defence is based on pressure, slowing up the opposition ball and attacking the opposition to regain possession.

We were a few per cent off on all those aspects and at this level even a few per cent interrupts the flow of your performance and it became a very stop-start game.

We weren't as accurate as we would like in attack and defence, and that's a work-on for the next week leading into Ulster.

But the scrum was very much a positive for us. Stephen Archer, Duncan Casey, Dave Kilcoyne - well the whole scrum but those in particular did a great job.

There were a lot of long scrums and they worked very hard and I thought we had the upper hand.

Then when BJ Botha, Eusebio Guinazu and John Ryan came on fresh off the bench they added a huge amount as well. They finished off the job that the lads started and we got a couple of penalties off the scrum and a couple of turnovers, which has a huge effect psychologically.

That can impact any team and I'm sure Treviso would have targeted their scrum as one of their main weapons so it was all very pleasing to take that away from them. We certainly caused damage and capitalised from that set-piece while also removing one of their attacking platforms.

It was great to see Tommy O'Donnell showing up in the right place at the right time again and getting a try on his 100th appearance for the province.

He works hard and it isn't by chance that he ends up in the right place. It was good to see him on the end of a well-worked set piece move. Such was the quality of the execution I think himself and Dave Kilcoyne were both in space so Conor could have put either one in.

The fact that the lads scored directly off a set-piece move was very pleasing for them because that would be something they would have worked hard to perfect on the training pitch.

In the last few weeks one of the points we made was that the non-starting 15 were training at a very high standard. They were putting a lot of pressure on the starting 15 in attack and defence, replicating the intensity of a Pro12 game, which has greatly helped our preparation.

CONFIDENT

A lot of credit needs to go to the whole squad at the moment and when training is so competitive like that everyone is more confident about our levels of preparation.

So moves like that try against Treviso, they are run several times against a high-quality defence in training so it really prepares you for the real thing come kick-off.

And now it's all about preparing for Ulster, and a game that ultimately should decide if we are top two or not.

We know it's of huge advantage to have two weeks between fixtures if you use the time well. We had good meetings earlier in the week to review the Treviso performance. We put that to bed and looked ahead and laid out a plan to attack and defend against Ulster.

Clarity this week should bring intensity to training next week which prepares us for a massive battle in Kingspan Stadium tomorrow week.

Irish Independent

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