Wednesday 21 March 2018

We're after the win, but we're ready for anything

Peter O’Mahony in action at trainingspoken
Peter O’Mahony in action at trainingspoken

It was a fabulous game of rugby last weekend according to everybody from outside the two camps - for us, though, it was a case of two points lost.

That's one of the things of being in this job. You just view it differently; you spend so much time looking at your own side of things.

The feedback from anyone I have spoken to was they enjoyed the game immensely, which is great for the league.

There was plenty there for the neutral I suppose: it was so exciting and it was nip and tuck.

But for Munster especially, it was a case of losing two points and we weren't happy with that return. Given the situation we were in, we can't be happy coming away with a draw.

Ulster are a great side that are playing well and are unbeaten at home. We put ourselves in a great position to get the result so we're happy with a lot of the performance but there is a tinge of disappointment because we didn't finish the job.

We were away from home and went up to Belfast to play a certain way and we did that. Maybe we defended for longer periods than we would have liked at times but in essence I thought Ulster played very well in the first half.

Then I thought we played very well in the second half - and up to the last play of the first half we were going in 9-3 up.

We had done a very good job up to that point and instead we went in 10-9 down. But we played very well through the second half to get into a dominant position towards the end.


We defended well at times, but at that intensity everybody is going to make mistakes, whether it be in attack or defence from time to time.

It was a tense match - talking to the players on both sides afterwards, they said it was up there with European Cup rugby.

It was a good contest throughout.

When we had the ball we wanted to hold onto it and put pressure on them and particularly in the breakdown area where they like to contest a lot - we picked up a couple of penalties there.

I'd say our set-piece was very strong, our scrum particularly, which allowed us to soak up the pressure and put pressure back on them at set-piece and in terms of ball in hand when we had it.

Given the conditions and playing away from home, we were very pleased with that first-half performance and taking the chances that came our way.

But ultimately it's going to come down to this weekend and there are so many different permutations. All we can do is go out and try and get the result we want against Dragons.

The review of Ulster is parked. It's just about this weekend and doing what we can. That's the only thing that is in our control and we will see what happens elsewhere.

That will dictate whether we are home or away for a semi-final and then we'll go and prepare for whatever happens.

But right now it's just about concentrating on what we can get done against Dragons tomorrow.

Even if we were to get five points, given that the league is ranked this year on wins rather than on points difference, if Glasgow and Ospreys both get five points each and then we will stay in third even with the maximum from our game.

So obviously we will be hoping that Connacht get a result against Ospreys and Ulster put it up to Glasgow.

All of those results will have a bearing on the table and who ends up in a home semi-final.


There seem to be no dead rubbers at this stage of the season: Ospreys played Glasgow last weekend, we played Ulster, you have one point separating four teams at the top, and then you have Connacht hoping to get into that sixth spot.

You have Scarlets vying for it as well and then you have Treviso and Zebre having their own battle at the bottom of the table.

It makes all the games a lot more interesting and I think anybody following the Pro12 will have an interest in this final round, which is a great thing for the game.

But we will have to concentrate on Dragons solely tomorrow. This is the only result we can affect. We are going out to win and who knows what that might bring - hopefully a home semi-final.

Irish Independent

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