Tuesday 20 March 2018

Anthony Foley frustrated by failure of Munster fringe men to step up

Dragons 22 - Munster 6

Munster’s Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino’s try attempt is held up Dragons’ Nic Cudd at Rodney Parade yesterday
Munster’s Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino’s try attempt is held up Dragons’ Nic Cudd at Rodney Parade yesterday

John Fallon

They won't be pressing the panic button in Munster just yet but Anthony Foley made little effort to hide his huge disappointment with this loss at Rodney Parade yesterday.

He made 10 changes from the side turned overturned by Connacht and had hoped that the absence of some marquee players would be offset by others aiming to make their case for the games against Leicester Tigers in the Champions Cup over the next couple of weekends.

This was Munster's second defeat in a row but only their third of the season and Foley will be keen to put a lot in context for his men as they prepare for Leicester's arrival at Thomond Park.

Foley will look for a reaction to this in what will surely be a painful week for Munster.

"If you go back to last year," he said, "we had three or four (losses) on the bounce but we want to get our heads down and get a performance against Leicester next week and make sure that we stop the rot.


"You play Connacht at home, you come to win; you play Dragons at home, you come to win. From my point of view, it's not about losing - it's about winning and we let ourselves down today big time.

"You go back into it and there's errors all over there, there's balls trying to be offloaded, there's stray passes dropped and turning over ball at breakdown and not capitalising on their breakdown.

"It's hard to absorb at the moment," said a frustrated Foley.

Munster failing to score in the second half after butchering a couple of good chances in the opening period only added to the gloom around Newport.

But what riled Foley the most was the failure of fringe players to make a case for inclusion. It just didn't happen.

"Fellas had opportunities and they didn't take them," he said. "We've got to make changes, we're in competitions here and we've a lot of injuries.

"It could have been 13-6, it could have been 20-6 if we had taken our opportunities. Confidence isn't about touching down ball, you know.

"Catch and pass, that's being able to do your job and we didn't do that today. It's very frustrating, changes don't matter. Performances matter and we didn't perform."

He had made ten changes to the side which lost to Connacht but they never led in this one.

Yet, they were only 12-6 behind three minutes from the end when South African Rynard Landman killed off the game with the tie's only try.

They had good chances in the opening half to get ahead but some never-say-die defending by Dragons yielded a big dividend.

The net result was that the sides turned around deadlocked at 6-6 with Rory Scannell kicking a couple of penalties on a day when he and hooker Niall became the first set of brothers to start a league game for Munster.

On both occasions Scannell drew Munster level after Dorian Jones had kicked penalties.

Jones put Dragons into a lead they never lost with a good drop goal four minutes after the restart, with Tyler Bleyendaal missing an easy penalty after coming on.

Munster kept alive the hopes of a late comeback but Dragons killed off that notion to secure their third win of the campaign and only their second win over Munster in ten meetings.

Dragons: C Meyer; T Prydie, A Hughes, A Warren, A Hewitt (R Wardle 79); D Jones (J Tovey 79), S Pretorius (C Davies 65); P Price, T R Thomas (R Buckley 65), B Harris (L Fairbrother 72); M Screech (C Hill 71), R Landman; L Evans (E Jackson 51), N Cudd, T Faletau.

Munster: L Amorosino; R O'Mahony (G van den Heever 71), D Johnston, D Hurley, S Zebo; R Scannell (T Bleyendaal 51), T O'Leary (C Sheridan 65); D Kilcoyne (J Cronin 61), N Scannell (K O'Byrne 71), J Ryan (M Sagario 65); D Foley, M Chisholm (B Holland 65); S Buckley (J Coghlan 61), D O'Callaghan, R Copeland.

Ref: G Conway (IRFU).

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