Tuesday 22 October 2019

We took our time beating Kings but Ospreys are a huge test

Player's Diary: Rory Scannell

Andrew Conway returned to action for Munster scoring the second try against Southern Kings. Photo: Sportsfile
Andrew Conway returned to action for Munster scoring the second try against Southern Kings. Photo: Sportsfile

After a good win over Kings last weekend, it's great to be facing Ospreys tonight with a real shot of confidence, but against our Conference A rivals we know this will be no easy task.

Over the years we have had some real tight battles with Ospreys, and as much as any team, they've really put it up to us. Heading to Swansea for tonight's game we all know the challenge that awaits.

To score seven tries and keep Southern Kings scoreless last weekend was a great result for us, but looking back on the game in our Monday morning review, it was clear to see that we were far from perfect - especially in that first half.

The wind was very strong as well and there was a heavy drizzle for most of the game too. Despite plenty of good play we struggled to put the phases together. Kings did well to disrupt our maul early on and we struggled to get our attack going off the back of that.

But there was the small problem of all the unforced errors, which halted our progress before half-time. We got our set-piece going in the second half and we cut out those mistakes and it looked a lot better after that.

Influence

When you have a wet ball it's tough going, and I think that probably had a bit of an influence and it took us both some time to get used to it. There was a lot of dropped balls in the tackle. We'd go a phase or two after a set-piece and things would break down for us, which was very frustrating.

We were on their five-metre line a few times but we just couldn't get across for the score. It wasn't that they were dominating us or anything - we were beating ourselves up and that makes it all the more frustrating.

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Thankfully, at half-time we reset and hit the second half with a clear mind. After that we protected the ball a lot better and once we managed to recycle through the phases the scoring chances came our way.

We knew that if we could sort out those errors that we'd have a pretty good chance of going on to win and perhaps claim a bonus point. We started the second half well and Darren's (Sweetnam) try settled us. When try number four came along for Billy (Holland), it was job done, but we were satisfied that we kicked on and ended up with a convincing win.

Jack O’Donoghue is back in the mix. Photo: Sportsfile
Jack O’Donoghue is back in the mix. Photo: Sportsfile

Even though it came right at the very end, I was delighted to pick up a try. We had good defence off that set-piece and forced an error. Luckily, I managed to gather the loose ball and it was a bit of a walk-in in the end.

I was on kicking duty too, which brings its added pressures, but it's a job that I always love doing. The weather could have been a bit better - I would have preferred a nice calm evening - and it tested my technique. But I was happy to get the responsibility and satisfied with my return.

With a good few of the lads out of action due to Ireland duty, it was great to see the likes of Andrew Conway back with us to get some game-time. He went into Irish camp a few weeks ago and hasn't played in a while due to a slight injury, so I'm sure he was delighted to get 80 minutes. Rhys Marshall is back too and he has had a frustrating few months with injury, while it's great to see Jack O'Donoghue back in the mix again, which is a great boost for the squad.

Thankfully, I've never had a long-term injury but you can imagine how frustrating it must be for a professional athlete to be sidelined for months on end. I'd say it can be quite isolating when you're away from the squad doing your own training, and I'm sure it could be lonely at times going through the monotony of rehab and recovery. Getting back must be a big relief, so hopefully the lads enjoy being back playing again.

Going into that Kings game a big aim of ours was to be well disciplined, but I don't think any of us expected to see an 18-0 penalty count. Delivering zeroes on both the scoreboard and penalty count was a great return so we were delighted with that.

While it's always great to have a game on a Friday as it gives you a nice weekend to recover, I got hit with a bit of a bug for a couple of days after the Kings game and I wasn't feeling the best.

I was back to normal for a tough session on Tuesday, so it soon sweated out of my system. We've trained really well ahead of this trip to face Ospreys. They have had a tough run in the last few weeks but winning at the Liberty Stadium is always a real challenge.

The last couple of times we finished on the right side of it, but I've never had an easy game over there. It always seems to be a one-score game.

Stronger

We beat them earlier in the season but I think this is a stronger team that they've selected. It's a massive game for them as well if they want to push on into the play-offs, so they'll be raring to go. We'll have to match that intensity if we want to stay top of the conference.

I won't be heading over to Rome on Sunday unless I get a late call-up, but we'll all be keeping a close eye on Niall if he's in the mix. Hopefully we see loads of the Munster lads involved.

Chatting to a few of them they were delighted with how Scotland went, but they'll have to drive it on again and pick up another few wins before the end.

There is a few of the lads on the fringes who are waiting for their opportunity. Hopefully, they get that chance this weekend and that we're all happy with our results.

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