Monday 24 June 2019

Johann van Graan pleased that his Munster players adapted to pre-game and in-game 'disruptions'

CJ Stander of Munster celebrates after scoring his side's second try during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 2 Round 3 match between Munster and Castres at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
CJ Stander of Munster celebrates after scoring his side's second try during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 2 Round 3 match between Munster and Castres at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Munster head coach Johann Van Graan hailed his side's second-half display as they secured a 30-5 win over Castres Olympique in their Heineken Champions Cup clash at Thomond Park.

Rory Scannell, CJ Stander and man-of-the-match JJ Hanrahan all ran in tries in the second period to help the Irish province seal a deserved victory over the reigning French champions.

The victory, which did not include a bonus point, leaves Munster three points clear of Gloucester at the top of Pool Two after three games, with Castres six points off the pace in third.

Van Graan said: "It was a very tough European battle between two heavyweights. Credit to Castres, who stuck to their task.

"I was very happy with the way we adapted to one or two disruptions pre-game and in-game it was a lot wetter than we anticipated in that first 40 minutes and we tightened up at half-time.

"All credit to the players who adapted to what we wanted in that second half.

"We went through them and I thought we got a comfortable victory in the end by 25 points which we would have taken before the game."

The South African was pleased with Hanrahan's performance after the fly-half was brought in as a late replacement for the injured Joey Carbery, while Munster also lost Ireland centre Chris Farrell to an injury in the warm-up.

"It is not ideal losing players like Joey Carbery and Chris Farrell shortly before kick-off, but that is why you have a squad. Our squad depth got tested today, both at 10 and at 13," he said.

"I am glad that JJ stepped up so well and that Sammy (Arnold) stepped up. All credit to our mindset. It doesn't matter who gets picked or what happens, we have to adapt and I'm very happy with that."

Castres defence and forwards coach Joe El-Abd felt the best team won.

"I am very disappointed," he said. "Obviously, we had big ambitions today, but we got dominated in every sector, but no complaints obviously with the result.

"In the first half we managed to stay in it, I don't think they did much either, so we turned at 6-0 down and everything to play for. The early try in the second half was difficult and from there it was an uphill battle.

"I think they were on their game today. You always know Munster are going to perform in the Heineken Cup. It is a competition they attack 100 per cent.

"They put us under pressure everywhere and we weren't great. We weren't very precise in what we did, but that is due in large amounts to what they did on the pitch today."

The two teams will meet again in Castres next Saturday.

El-Abd added: "I think it's going to be a very tough game (next Saturday). We know what to expect. We played them last season at home and the game was different to the one away.

"We need to win 4-0 in terms of match points. Today we lost 4-0. They didn't get the bonus point, so we are still alive in the competition."

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