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O'Gara's heroics fail to mask Munster failings

FOR the second week running, Ronan O'Gara won the game for Munster with the last kick to beat Castres 27-24 in Toulouse.

But that is nothing new. Munster have always kept going right down to the final whistle and O'Gara, a model of calm amid hysteria and emotion, has a well-honed art for delivering the dramatic conclusion.

One other quality remains from the halcyon days - a voracious appetite to get the job finished whatever the odds and circumstances.

A single moment in the second half epitomised this deeply entrenched hunger. Castres made another mess of a restart - they hardly won one all game, which proved a significant factor in the outcome - and the ball went loose.

Standing beside Paul O'Connell, hardly the most nimble or speedy of men, were a Castres flanker and their scrum-half.

Yet O'Connell reacted quickest to secure possession in an act that beautifully illustrated Munster's never-ending determination to win.

Elements like that always hallmarked the old Munster from this tournament's inception.

This was no earth-shattering performance by Munster - there was a lack of precision in execution and simple errors frustrated everyone in their camp.

O'Connell conceded the point: "There is a lot to work on, an awful lot. It was disappointing to concede points like we did and we can't be doing that.

"The good teams just don't do that in the Heineken Cup.

"We can be pleased at the outcome and scoring three tries. But we have to learn the lessons.

"We won twice by not very much and giving lots of points to our opponents. That isn't the standard we are aiming for."


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