Munster reign as worthy URC kingpins

Munster celebrating their URC final win over Stormers in Cape Town. Photo: Nic Bothma.

ONLY in the coming days will the immenseness of Munster’s stunning 19-14 United Rugby Championship (URC) final defeat of holders Stormers in Cape Town become truly understandable.

That’s according to coach Graham Rowntree, who reflected in a television interview that the win “won’t sink in for a long time” at the end of Saturday’s thrilling decider in front of a record attendance of 55,000.

“It’s not been straightforward this season, particularly the challenges we’ve had recently, sixth game on the road, to come and do this. I’m immensely proud of the group,” the winning coach declared.

“It’s not been easy. I’ll let you know when it sinks in. It’ll sink in at some point, depending on how much Pinotage I drink in the next 12 hours. It’s my best day ever.”

The monumental win – certainly when you consider the province lost five of its opening seven matches in the tournament – represented Munster’s first trophy win in 12 years, and a first for Rowntree as head coach.

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Munster had trailed 7-0 in the early exchanges, but found themselves 12-7 ahead at the interval – courtesy of five-pointers from Diarmuid Barron and Calvin Nash (converted by Jack Crowley).

When Deon Fourie crossed for a try on 50 minutes, which Manie Libbok converted, the chances of Munster success appeared slim.

The deciding try, however, came close to the finish from Player of the Match John Hodnett, to which the extras were added by ever-dependable Crowley.

“Battle-hardened, that’s exactly what we’re talking about. We stuck in until the very end. That was the difference,” Hodnett told TG4.

Munster: Mike Haley, Calvin Nash (Keith Earls 70), Antoine Frisch (Ben Healy 62), Malakai Fekitoa, Shane Daly, Jack Crowley, Conor Murray (Craig Casey 66), Jeremy Loughman (Josh Wycherley 62), Diarmuid Barron (Niall Scannell 62), Stephen Archer (Roman Salanoa 62), Jean Kleyn (Alex Kendellen 69), Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony (C) (RG Snyman 34), John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.