Friday 23 March 2018

Penney wary of Perpignan return

Rob Penney expects Munster to face a tough return match at Perpignan despite a bonus-point win at Thomond Park on Sunday.
Rob Penney expects Munster to face a tough return match at Perpignan despite a bonus-point win at Thomond Park on Sunday.

Head coach Rob Penney insisted his Munster side will face a "massive challenge" in Perpignan next Saturday, despite their 36-8 bonus-point win at Thomond Park.

Munster outscored Perpignan by five tries to one in the first of the sides' back-to-back matches, moving two points clear of Gloucester at the top of Heineken Cup Pool 6.

Sean Dougall, David Kilcoyne and man-of-the-match Keith Earls touched down as the Irish province took a 22-0 half-time lead, and a penalty try and pushover effort from James Coughlan wrapped up the five points.

Perpignan had a penalty from captain James Hook who put Joffrey Michel through for a late consolation try, but a much tighter affair is in prospect when two-time European champions Munster travel to the Stade Aime Giral for the return leg next Saturday.

Looking for further improvements from his side, Penney said: "We are hamstrung to a degree. We have teams on the rack and then there is an errant pass or a poor decision being made. But we are a lot better than we were 12 months ago.

"It is a massive challenge going to Perpignan next week, with the passion and fervour they have for the game down there. It is something we are used to here, but rather than be at our backs, it will be in our faces this time round.

"That will be a big challenge for us, to be able to adjust, not to get caught up in the hype of the opposition's venue. Discipline is going to be a key issue heading into next week in France. We will take learning from today."

Munster have a major injury concern over their Ireland and Lions scrum half Conor Murray ahead of their trip to France next weekend.

Penney fears Murray will not be available for selection owing to the knee injury he sustained in the opening half against Perpignan.

"Conor Murray is our main injury worry. Obviously we don't know exactly how bad it is," Penney said.

"He is feeling a little better now than he was when he came off, but I suspect he won't be around next week (for the return match in France)."

Perpignan's replacement out-half Tommy Allan, who made his Test debut for Italy last month, said the turnovers the visitors conceded had contributed to their downfall in Limerick.

"Our gameplan was good. We need to focus more on keeping the ball," admitted the former Scotland Under-20 international.

"Thomond Park is a great stadium. I really enjoyed playing here. The crowd was incredible. The result did not go our way, but we have Munster at home in six days. We will get ready for that.

"It will be a good game, I think. We need to hold onto the ball better next week. The turnover count hurt us as well as our discipline. We gave away too many penalties.

"We need to work on our aggression a bit. Our tackling was good. Munster got over the gain-line a lot.

"That is what got them go-forward and when they manage that, they are a top team."

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