Munster are Wales-bound again

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30 August 2022; Head coach Graham Rowntree during a Munster rugby squad training session at the University of Limerick in Limerick. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

ON THEIR second trip to Wales in jigtime, Graham Rowntree’s Munster are hoping to collect their first win of the BKT United Rugby Championship as they tackle Dragons at Rodney Parade, Newport, on Sunday next (3pm, live on RTÉ). 

In the season opener, Munster went down 20-13 away to Cardiff Blues. Only briefly, when young Jack O’Sullivan lunged over the line to touch down on the hour mark, were the visitors ever ahead. 

Minus some regulars – like Stephen Archer, Mike Haley and Simon Zebo – but with the likes of summer signing Malakai Fekitoa and the returning (from injury) pair of Dave Kilcoyne and John Hodnett, Munster picked up a losing bonus point but have plenty to work on going forward. 

On reflection, Rowntree told RTÉ: “We are going to have a look at ourselves, what we can do better in terms of holding onto the ball”.

“We have to have a look at our breakdown, our urgency wasn’t good enough sometimes. Particularly the second half, that pressure they put on the breakdown just got greater and greater.

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“We’ve got to look at that, when we can look after the ball and how we can improve our breakdown urgency. They’re two big take-outs for me.

“Having said that, I’m delighted to salvage a bonus point at the end.”

With ten players moving towards departure time for the Emerging Ireland Tour to South Africa and the internationals still unavailable, Munster will again be under capacity at the weekend.

The head coach acknowledged: “We are going to lose guys to the Emerging Ireland tour. We knew about that, and we’ve planned for that”.

“We get the lads (Ireland internationals) back for round three, we’ve got Dragons on Sunday – another big challenge for us on the road.

“Then we get the lads back when we play Zebre in Cork.”

Dragons, whose ranks now included former Munster out-half JJ Hanrahan, suffered a heavy opening round competition loss (44-6) at Edinburgh.