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Foley: Poor start cost Munster in Clermont defeat


Clermont's Ludovic Radosavljevic pulls Munster's Simon Zebo

Clermont's Ludovic Radosavljevic pulls Munster's Simon Zebo

Clermont's Ludovic Radosavljevic pulls Munster's Simon Zebo

Munster head coach Anthony Foley bemoaned his side's 'very poor start' as Clermont Auvergne's 16-9 victory at Thomond Park moved them to the top of European Champions Cup Pool 1One.

Clermont became the first French team to beat Munster at their Limerick fortress, ending a 23-match winning streak in such fixtures for the Irish province. The Reds' only previous European home defeats came against Leicester Tigers (2007) and Ulster (2012).

Man-of-the-match Fritz Lee and Wesley Fofana both touched down in the opening quarter, with Camille Lopez's penalty and drop goal making it 16-6 to the French giants.

Ian Keatley knocked over his third successful penalty but Munster were unable to cross the whitewash on a frustrating night for the two-time European Cup winners.

Foley admitted afterwards: "It was a very poor start (from us). That allowed Clermont to get belief and obviously gave them five points (with Lee's try).

"From there, they grew into the game and we didn't get as physically into the game as we would have liked and some of that is turning over ball and not making good use of the ball, putting pressure on them. We soaked up a lot of pressure and ended up giving out points to them."


"We came into the game very confident to get a physical job done on them. We are not looking for excuses. Clermont were the better team here and we need to rectify that for next week. We need to be able to go over there and get one back."

Foley insists they are still very much in with a chance of quarter-final qualification, sitting second in the pool table just a point behind Clermont.

Next weekend's trip to the Stade Marcel Michelin is hugely significant and Foley explained: "I don't think we're going to throw in any towel and we'll give it our best shot. We'll make sure that we stay fighting.

"We've got to stay true to the badge that we're wearing and turn up next week. It's not a great feeling at the moment in the Munster camp so we need to rectify that," he added.


"We just need to turn up and play. We didn't do that today. We made too many errors. We allowed them a good foothold in the game and they are good players.

"We have good players but you can't give those players front foot ball, an opportunity or a half-break. They make hay."

Meanwhile, Clermont boss Franck Azema was pleased with his side's defensive effort which gave them the platform for the club's second ever win on Irish spoil - they also beat Leinster at the Aviva Stadium in a December 2012 pool game.

He said: "(I'm) happy, but we are only halfway. The first part is finished and the second part starts next week but it's a good position to be in.

"We know in both games it is important to take maximum points but we are in a good position tonight - but when you see the last five minutes (when Munster came hard at us) and the score, we may be wary (of) next week.

"We were in a comfortable position to win the game (at half-time) but the last five minutes showed that it was not finished. Certainly next week we have a big game.

"Our defence was good, was strong. In the last five minutes we were able to control this and I'm very proud of the players because they give it their all in the last five minutes."