Wednesday 26 October 2016

We're ready to make amends in huge games

Mick O'Driscoll

Published 22/04/2016 | 02:30

Simon Zebo skips away from the Connacht defence to score a try for Munster at the Sportsground
Simon Zebo skips away from the Connacht defence to score a try for Munster at the Sportsground

The season isn't over yet - we have put ourselves dangerously close to the edge but with home games to come against Edinburgh and Scarlets, we are confident we will still qualify for next season's Champions Cup.

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First and foremost, we need to learn from last weekend's defeat against Connacht in the Sportsground, and that was a difficult one to take.

The frustrating thing from our point of view is we felt we did a lot right in that game, especially early on. But we just couldn't stem the flow when one or two decisions went against us and the momentum shifted - it wasn't the Munster way and we know that.

We need to learn to deal with that situation better in future. We know Connacht were the better team on the day and it was quite humbling to lose by 21 points, but we shouldn't have put ourselves in that scenario. This will be a big test of the character of this group, and the lads will come out fighting, no doubt.

Ultimately, for the first 30 minutes against Connacht I thought we were very impressive and we were controlling things well. But whatever happened, we just completely fell apart which is a bit unlike us really. Obviously James Cronin's yellow card swung things a bit, and it probably cost us a lot of momentum.

When he was off, and with Billy Holland getting binned also, we conceded 14 points during that period. That was a big turning point in the game. But at the same time, they are not excuses, Connacht were still the better side on the day and they deserved their victory.

That's what happens, with the two yellow cards. Cronin's one was off a scrum while Billy was caught on the wrong side and penalised for slowing the ball down. It's difficult for the officials to always get things right but all sides are looking for a level of consistency, and going by the letter of the law each time, I would have thought that Connacht would certainly have had at least one player in the bin, for slowing the ball against us also.

Overall, it's difficult to take two defeats against the same team in the one season. It's not acceptable, it's not good enough and unfortunately that's what has happened, and we need to learn and move on now. We're not in a precarious position just yet, because if we win these two games we are guaranteed top six. It's two cup finals effectively for us.


We have to beat Edinburgh next weekend, and then Scarlets on the final day, to guarantee top six at minimum. Neither of those games will be easy, but we just have to pull together as a group, and make sure that we are ready.

The game against Edinburgh is going to be massive. Things haven't gone the way we would have liked this season, but all we can do is accept it and move on. We need to make sure, going into Edinburgh that we are ready and geared up for the challenge.

If we beat Edinburgh that more or less puts them out and if they beat us that more or less puts us out. So it literally is all to play for next weekend. It will be a massive week, and how we react between now and then is going to be huge.

We would still prefer to be playing in the Champions Cup this weekend, but that was determined earlier in the season and we need to make use of this break and place all of our focus now on Edinburgh and how we can beat them.

It's all a matter of getting four points against them next week, the lads understand the seriousness of the situation and we certainly don't want to be playing Challenge Cup rugby next season.

It will be a big training week next week. We will have three training sessions before the game. It's very important that we know exactly what we are doing and where we are aiming to do it with that game.

We will have the sessions planned out. The key thing is getting through the sessions, getting the work done and making sure we are as best prepared as we can be for Edinburgh. We know we need to be on top form to get the win.

From here, anything but the best won't be good enough, and everyone around here is well tuned in to what's at stake. It's not so much tension, but everyone wants to make amends and put things right against Edinburgh.

We need to prove to ourselves that we are better than what we have shown in recent matches.

Irish Independent

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