Sunday 19 January 2020

Johann van Graan reflects on missed chances while Leo Cullen hails young gun in Leinster victory

Rowan Osborne of Leinster with friends following the win over Munster
Rowan Osborne of Leinster with friends following the win over Munster
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Munster head coach Johann van Graan was left to rue his side's failure to take their chances when in the Leinster 22.

Van Graan's men coughed up several opportunities to snatch a draw, including in the final stages of the game when another lineout went astray.

Leinster ran out 13-6 winners at a sold out Thomond Park to maintain their unbeaten season in testing windy conditions.

Van Graan was frustrated with how Munster were unable to cope with the conditions as Leinster strangled the life out of them to stretch their winning run to 13 games.

"Obviously very disappointed to lose at home," the Reds' head coach said.

"It was an incredibly tough match. I thought we didn't start the game well enough.

"They put us under pressure, we conceded penalties, they kicked us into the corner. Ultimately, their try was the difference in the game.

"I thought we reassessed quite well at halftime and adapted. We had multiple opportunities in the 22.

"All credit to Leinster, they kept us out. In the last 10 minutes, we just literally couldn't get over the try line."

"It's (Leinster) a quality side and that's why they're the champions I guess. I thought they handled the big moments better.

"We were in it until the last play of the game and unfortunately, we lost a lineout there on the goal-line, very frustrating but well done to them.

"I thought our discipline in the first half let us down. Against the wind, we literally couldn't get out. I think the positive in the first half was that we got into their 22 once and we got away with three points.

"The second half, obviously, we won 3-0 but the fact that we were 13-3 down at half-time, right at the end it cost us.

"I'll have to go and have a look at the game, obviously, they were onside for every single phase there at the end and they got rewarded with that penalty and as I said, we lost a crucial lineout."

Munster captain for the night Billy Holland echoed Van Graan's frustrations as he pointed to his and his team-mates inability to capitalise on periods of pressure.

"Look, the conditions, I don't know how it came across but it was very windy out there so it was hard to move the ball,” Holland maintained.

"So, it was a hugely physical contest up front. They have a lot of quality ball carriers.

"Johann said there, we gave them a few easy outs in the first half in those conditions with the wind behind them, they get a few penalties and it's an easy way of getting up the pitch.

"You can't give them a 13-0 lead. From a forwards point of view, our lineout has been excellent all season, we had a few inaccuracies, particularly towards the end and that's not good enough.

"You need to be spot on there to win games against the likes of... probably the best club side in the world.”

Leo Cullen was naturally delighted to come away with a win. The Leinster boss hailed the character that his young players showed, particularly Rowan Osborne, who was sprung into the starting XV late in the day for his first start.

The scrum-half managed the occasion well with Cullen pointing to the importance of the club system within the province.

"He's been fantastic, such a great story, someone who hasn't come through the Academy system,” Cullen added.

"Noel McNamara coached him in Clongowes, Tony Smeeth in Trinity between the two of them, got him in for a trial over the summer and he went well.

"We've kept him on now and he's been great. To step into that environment today, great credit to him."

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