Wednesday 7 December 2016

Rassie shoulders the blame for his side's slack finish in bonus win

Declan Rooney

Published 26/09/2016 | 02:30

Dave O'Callaghan of Munster gets away from Mike Allen of Edinburgh on is way to scoring his side's fourth try. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Dave O'Callaghan of Munster gets away from Mike Allen of Edinburgh on is way to scoring his side's fourth try. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Munster’s Dave O’Callaghan scores his side’s fourth try despite the efforts of Sam Hidalgo-Clyne. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

This was a strange one. Munster trampled all over Edinburgh for an hour on their way to a bonus point win, but a sloppy last quarter marred the victory in their eyes.

Munster 28 Edinburgh 14

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Two tries from Conor Murray in the first-half were earned by their totally dominant scrum, before Conor Oliver and Dave O'Callaghan cantered in for tries early in the second-half.

Duncan Casey of Munster is tackled by Ben Toolis and Glenn Bryce of Edinburgh. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Duncan Casey of Munster is tackled by Ben Toolis and Glenn Bryce of Edinburgh. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

But a series of injuries in the back-row meant Stephen Archer was forced to play at flanker late on as the home side lost their shape. Rassie Erasmus points the blame firmly at his own door, for his lack of knowledge of the rules.

Early on Jack O'Donoghue was stretchered when Fraser McKenzie collided with him at a ruck, an event that referee Ben Whitehouse deemed to be worthy of a yellow card.

"I think we must always be honest with the supporters, people out there and you guys. I made an error there. I thought because we lost a player because of foul play you can get another sub on," said Erasmus.

"We wanted to put Niall Scannell back on as flank, but they said because he was on already and we couldn't. That was a technical thing I got wrong.

John Ryan of Munster is tackled by Magnus Bradbury, left, and Stuart McInally of Edinburgh. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
John Ryan of Munster is tackled by Magnus Bradbury, left, and Stuart McInally of Edinburgh. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

"With a prop at flank, at lineout and in the scrum sometimes it's just impossible to get anything going. Certainly there was a little bit of almost panic there at one stage, a guy looks next to him and he sees Archie packing next to him at flank and at lock."

Certainly Munster were thrown off kilter when Edinburgh's replacement tighthead Allan Dell was also sin-binned early in the second-half. Kevin Bryce had earlier left the field with an elbow injury, which then resulted in uncontested scrums. Munster's most potent weapon had to be put back on the shelf.

But their superiority must be qualified too. Edinburgh rested Ross Ford and WP Nel from their daunting front-row of last season, which was also shorn of the injured Alastair Dickinson. Bryce is a recently converted hooker, while Dell is the club's third choice loosehead.

"We will get stiffer opposition as we go on. I am not saying this team was weak at all, overall, I'm just saying for the teams we've played so far we've done well at scrum time and are getting solidness around the scrum where it was fragile before.

"The big, big guns will come now, Italian teams like scrumming. You start playing Leinster, Leicester and Racing, those guys enjoying scrummaging. We are ticking the box so far at scrummaging, but there are going to be some reality checks in the next few weeks."

But in their post-game analysis Munster were pretty severe on themselves. At one stage in the second half their dominance was so complete that it looked as if they would win by a landslide.

In the space of three minutes before their fourth try, Munster forced five penalties within touching distance of the Edinburgh try-line.

CJ Stander had twice been denied by brave defending by Duncan Weir, but the breakthrough eventually came when Tyler Bleyendaal put O'Callaghan through a hole.

O'Callaghan later joined O'Donoghue, Jean Kleyn and the outstanding Oliver on the treatment table, a plethora of injured back-rows to add to the ill Donnacha Ryan and concussed Tommy O'Donnell.

As Munster wavered, Edinburgh once again showed they are a side when huge character. John Hardie crossed for their second try 13 minutes from time, but Munster managed to reorganise to close out the game.

If Edinburgh get their first choice front row available, they will be a real threat to Connacht next week.

Munster - I Keatley; D Sweetnam, K Earls, C Bohane, R O'Mahony; T Bleyendaal (A Wootton 59), C Murray (D Williams 59); D Kilcoyne (J Cronin 58), N Scannell (D Casey 59), J Ryan; J Kleyn (D O'Shea 44), B Holland; D O'Callaghan (S Archer 65), J O'Donoghue (C Oliver 13), CJ Stander.

Edinburgh - G Bryce; D Hoyland, M Allen (R Scholes 72), C Dean, T Brown; D Weir (B Kinghorn 52), S Hidalgo-Clyne (S Kennedy 64); R Sutherland, S McInally (N Cochrane 59), K Bryce (A Dell 5); F McKenzie (L Carmichael 68), B Toolis; M Bradbury, H Watson (J Hardie 25-33, blood), C Du Preez (J Cosgrove 52) (J Hardie 59).

Ref - B Whitehouse (WRU).

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