Sunday 15 September 2019

'I'm very happy with the whole squad' - Johann van Graan hails Munster fringe players after bonus point win

Johann van Graan has extended his Munster stay
Johann van Graan has extended his Munster stay

John Fallon in Treviso

Munster coach Johann van Graan praised the strength and depth of his squad after they came from behind to oust Benetton Rugby in Treviso on Friday night.

His understrength side came from eleven points down in the second-half to fashion a 37-28 bonus point win against a Benetton Rugby side whose hopes of becoming the first Italian team to reach the knockout stages suffered a big set-back when they didn’t pick up any bonus points.

JJ Hanrahan landed seven kicks from seven attempts — some of them on the wings — as Munster kept their hopes of a home semi-final alive.

And van Graan said that it was encouraging so many fringe players were hitting top form as they faced into the Heineken Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens next weekend.

“It’s great that so many of our squad are hitting form at the backend of the season.

“I’m so glad for JJ. He got his opportunity and he took it but it’s all 23 guys. It was great,’ said van Graan.

He found encouraging signs right throughout the park as they came from 28-17 behind in the second-half to hold Benetton scoreless for the closing 35 minutes when they scored 20 points without reply.

Opening half tries from Rhys Marshall and Dan Goggin were followed by efforts from Shane Daly — his first for the province — and Alby Mathewson as Munster made it 22 wins on the trot against Italian opposition.

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“I thought Rhys Marshall played really, really well and Gavin Coombes when he came in and special mention to Billy Holland for leading the team to this victory.

“I thought Dan Goggin and Sammy Arnold did well and I thought Shane Daly did excellent again, his aerial game, his work-rate off the ball. Archie coming back on and Liam O’Connor from the bench.

“Basically, the whole squad, very happy with them,” added van Graan as he now turns his attention to the Heineken Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens.

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