Sport Rugby

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Let's build on exciting win and open gap to Ospreys

Munster and Ireland both won last weekend and they were two performances out of the top drawer.

It was the maximum we could have hoped for against Glasgow - picking up five points with the Warriors adding nothing to their total, so it's a massive shift at the top of the table.

There were aspects of the performance that I was particularly pleased with, especially in the attack around the amount of opportunities that we created.

Then, on the other side of things, we put ourselves in the position where we should have taken advantage of them a bit more and we have looked at that in order to improve our accuracy.

We had a lot of encouraging individual performances: Jack O'Donoghue is averaging about a try a game and Keith Earls continues to look sharper and sharper, and his try was a bit special.

Possibly the most pleasing aspects were the number of line-breaks we made - we created a lot more opportunities than we had in previous games.

It was very exciting to see some of those individuals playing well and some of our systems operating so efficiently. It is exciting that we had a performance like that but still have loads of things left to improve on which means there is plenty of potential for the rest of the season.

Highlighted

As usual, in the review we looked at the positives, we highlighted those and we are encouraging the players to go out again and perform in the same manner.

If we can just underpin that with a little bit more accuracy, we turned over some careless ball in the first-half when we really could have scored two or three tries earlier in the first half if we had been more clinical.

The message was we needed to be a bit more responsible especially in terms of opportunities we might have missed and offloads that went to ground. There are plenty of games to come where you mightn't get those opportunities and you have to capitalise on them when you get a chance.

And the only time we talk about cushions is if we beat Ospreys tomorrow, this match takes on such importance when you look at the table. If we can open up a further four-point gap with Ospreys already six back, there will be a separation there in terms of the top four.

But all we are focusing on at the moment is getting the result over at the Liberty Stadium. But we know it won't be easy - they beat us at home this season.

We were bitterly disappointed with our performance against them in Thomond Park - we felt that we had attacked and defended well enough for long periods of the game but we just made one or two big errors that cost us.

Elsewhere, last Sunday Ireland put together another thoroughly professional performance - they showed massive levels of intensity in attack and defence and suffocated England.

It was an exceptional game - they defended particularly well when England had their purple patch in the second half.

They got off to a really explosive start but in the second half in a different context when England hit a little bit of form, they were unbelievably impressive in defence.

It was a result they deserved and it was great to see the likes of Simon Zebo being so influential.

For Simon, it was the best opening he has had to a game in a long time - I don't know the figures but his performance in the initial stages of the game was very impressive. He got on the ball, carried and stepped in at first receiver and a lot of the play was centred on him.

Then with Conor Murray there were two parts to his game. At the start it was a very obvious kicking strategy and he kicked particularly well.

Then when Johnny Sexton went off he took control of the game and stepped up into the leadership role.

As well as them you had Tommy O'Donnell with another powerful performance, coming on early off the bench, and Paul O'Connell and Peter O'Mahony were as reliable as ever, while Felix Jones also took his chance.

So it was positive on all fronts last weekend. Hopefully Munster can keep the good news flowing with a performance against Ospreys and keep ourselves on course for a play-off spot.

Irish Independent

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