Saturday 19 August 2017

Player Diary: We have to improve tonight after getting away with it in Edinburgh

O’Donoghue: Tyler Bleyendaal, tackled here by Cornell Du Preez of Edinburgh, can keep his cool under pressure Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
O’Donoghue: Tyler Bleyendaal, tackled here by Cornell Du Preez of Edinburgh, can keep his cool under pressure Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Jack O'Donoghue

It can be hard to know what to think after a game like we had in Edinburgh last weekend. We didn't hit the targets we wanted in plenty of areas, we rode our luck at times, but most importantly we came away with another four points.

Had Blair Kinghorn landed that late penalty we'd all have felt that we had left a win behind us in Myreside, but thankfully his long penalty fell just short and we escaped.

From my own point of view, it was great to get another run at No 8, but there was a couple of things that I felt I could have done better. I'd be looking for an improvement at Irish Independent Park tonight, for sure.

As a unit, we didn't play that well in the middle half of the game, but we still managed to put them under a lot of pressure for the last 20 minutes or so. The pressure came back on us when we finally took the lead with about ten minutes to go, but we were able to rely on our defence and hold solid.

Either side of half-time we were especially annoyed with our execution, which wasn't up to scratch at times. We had plenty of errors, knock-ons and missed chances, and we kicked the ball out on the full five times.

Inches

Often times when you see a kick go out like that, it is just a matter of inches. Had one of those kicks gone the right way, we'd have been putting pressure on them. It's just little things like that that went against us, small margins I suppose. But that's something we have been putting right for this weekend leading into Dragons.

It was a strange kind of a game. We started strongly in the scrums, but as a unit we had a lapse in concentration which allowed them to come back into it and they managed to win a few penalties. But I think we recovered well and there were still some positives to take from that facet of the game.

You always come away from Edinburgh feeling a bit bruised and battered, and considering they had a few players away due to the international weekend they still had a really strong team out there. Being honest, they were really unlucky not to come away with a win, but it was down to our determination and eagerness to keep fighting that we came away with four points.

A real positive from the weekend was logging another good defensive performance. We were well clued in there and that's down to the system we have put in place with Jacques. You can see that organisation over the last number of games; it has been one of our strongest points and that's where our positive results have stemmed from. We enjoy putting pressure on in defence and forcing turnovers, so keeping them try-less was a pleasing part of last weekend.

It looked like it could have been a bit of a battle of the kickers, but thankfully we claimed the one try of the game, which was key. Tyler is so calm and composed inside the 22: some people might get a bit flustered and get white-line fever. When they see the chance they might try to go for it themselves, but Tyler kept cool and threw a lovely inside pass for Ronan O'Mahony.

We flew back home after the game, so we were all back in time to see the Ireland game on Saturday. A few of us went over to Killer's house to watch the match: it was obviously a disappointing result. The boys had a slow start which cost them, but the second-half performances was more of what we saw against New Zealand and Australia. They really went at them, attacked non-stop and got three tries which was great to see. But ultimately the result will be devastating for them: the Triple Crown and Grand Slam is no more, so all focus is on the Championship and Italy tomorrow. It's funny, after getting a small glimpse in the Irish camp, watching Ireland is now like watching Munster for me. You know most of the systems and the plays they are running, you know what is going through the minds of the players and what to expect next. You spend your time analysing the game while watching it, which is tough to do.

Seeing as we had our own game at the same time I didn't get to see the U-20s game. It looks to have been an unbelievable result and comeback for the lads. Fair play to all the Munster lads involved.

That's where it all started for me. I came off a good U-20s campaign and that led me into the senior set-up and senior programme. A lot of these guys will see the same pathway. They'll want to keep the head down, work away and see plenty of improvement and exposure for Ireland. That can only benefit them for their Six Nations campaign, the World Cup in the summer and whenever their chance comes with Munster. With top spot in the bag, we're all excited about playing in Cork again tonight, and certainly another home win is our target. It seems like ages since we played Ospreys there in November and it looks like it will be close to a sell-out again too. A Friday night in Cork is always a lively atmosphere, so we are excited.

Dragons will have a close to a full-strength squad for the game seeing as they don't have many in the Wales set-up so it will be a real battle up front with them. We had a real tough game with them in Rodney Parade, where we barely took the win. They had a maul with the last play to try and score but luckily we held them out.

We expect the same again, it'll be a real grind against a strong outfit. They always like to maul and scrum so we need to be ready for the battle. Like ourselves they are well up the kicking charts, so it should be an interesting game. We're in for plenty of shuttle running around the middle of the park!

Irish Independent

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