Thursday 23 November 2017

We are fired up to put things right after frustrating loss to Glasgow

Munster forwards coach Anthony Foley, left, and strength and rehab coach Aled Walters look on during training ahead of their side's Pro12 clash against Connacht on Saturday
Munster forwards coach Anthony Foley, left, and strength and rehab coach Aled Walters look on during training ahead of their side's Pro12 clash against Connacht on Saturday

Dave Kilcoyne

What's that saying about a boot in the backside just being inches away from a slap on the back? One thing for sure, rugby is a game that's fond of reminding you fairly often of the thin lines between victory and defeat.

Losing to Glasgow on Saturday, on the back of what was such a great occasion the week before, was very disappointing.

All through the week leading into the game we talked about achieving a consistency to our form and we just didn't get there at all.

The fact that I wasn't on the starting 15 last weekend is irrelevant, but just talking to the lads, we just weren't at it on the night. The required physicality at the contact area – a facet of the games that we are usually very good at – was absent for long periods.

We were excellent at the breakdown against Toulouse, but we didn't go near hitting those heights against Glasgow. If you don't get that right, you have very little chance of success. In fairness to Glasgow, though, they took their chances when they were presented to them.

It sometimes might appear that we have to suffer a loss to provoke a reaction out of us in big matches, but that's not on. In fairness, I don't think this is the case, but maybe the big day the week before last was a factor last weekend.

But any tendency towards that kind of attitude is something we are going to have to rectify and eliminate for good ahead of tomorrow in Galway against an excellent Connacht side and next week in Toulon. It's something we can sort on our own; it's an internal issue for ourselves to work on.


In general, if we set a high standard early on, it can carry us through a game, so we need to be ready to hit the ground running every time from here until the end of the season. There are not too many points up for grabs there now.

We got off to a bad start against Warriors, but it was scoreless second half too, which is both strange and frustrating. Normally, as teams tire the gaps appear, but neither side could take advantage of it. We had our chances, though; we were in their 22 quite a bit after the restart, but we never really managed to work it through the phases. The unforced errors killed us and, as a result, the scores didn't arrive.

I actually quite enjoyed the game when I got on for the last half an hour, mainly because there was plenty of physicality and battles about to get stuck into. We earned three penalties in the scrum and I had a good break as well, so I was satisfied with my lot personally. But, as a unit, it was very disappointing that we didn't pick up the win.

You always kind of dread Monday's review meeting after a performance like that and it was what you'd expect – it made for grim enough viewing – but it still wasn't a witch hunt or anything like it. We were rightly criticised where we needed to be, but we don't fool ourselves either. If there is a problem there, we own up to it and we take responsibility directly for it.

There's no hiding place and lads are honest with each other. And on the back of that, we are anxious to put a few things right against Connacht. None of us wanted that result, it was a game that was there for the taking and we couldn't take it.

To make matters worse, it was our first loss in Thomond Park all season and that was tough to take. That's not a run we wanted to end. But we have to move on this week.

If there was anyone feeling a bit down in the dumps at the beginning of the week, that soon disappeared on Tuesday when we paid a visit the Children's Ward in the Regional Hospital in Limerick. We did it down in Cork a few months back, too, and it's a great way to bring you back to real world.

Looking around, you can only imagine the difficulty that parents of sick children go through, not to mention the poor kids themselves. So, if giving them a small fraction of our week helps them in any small way, we are all delighted to do it.

Seeing the way the children can still produce a smile when at a low ebb really shows how easy we have it as professional sports players in the full of our health. A dose of reality is good sometimes.

That loss against Glasgow now means we are down in third place in the Pro12 standings, so a win tomorrow is all the more critical. I've played in the Sportsground a good few times and last year was a good night up there. There is a great atmosphere since the new stand was built.

Connacht took a bit of a trouncing up in Ravenhill last weekend, so we'll be expecting a backlash. We are also smarting after our loss, so there will be plenty of frustrations rattled out tomorrow.

Because it's the closest ground to Munster outside of the province, there is always a good red crowd in the Sportsground when the sides meet and I'm sure there'll be plenty of banter once again this time round.

They're a team that we know fairly well, but at the same time this is a team we cannot underestimate, especially at the Sportsground in front of their passionate crowd. We'll have to be prepared for it.

They can take a big scalp any day – just ask Toulouse – and we are determined that we won't be added to the collection tomorrow.

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