Cup survival hangs by a thread for Munster

Munster’s Jack Crowley tackled by Greg Fisilau of Exeter Chiefs. Photo: Brendan Moran.

THIS may be the season to be jolly, but it is unlikely that there were any renditions of Jingle Bells on the return journey by Munster following Sunday’s European Champions Cup defeat at Exeter.

According to head coach Graham Rowntree, it was a very disappointed away team dressing room in Sandy Park after the final whistle.

With 30 minutes remaining, his side were leading 13-24 and looking comfortable with a bonus point already in the bag. That was as good as it got for the Reds and, similar to the previous round when a dislodged boot cost them victory, Lady Luck went in the direction of the Chiefs with a quick brace of tries leaving the URC champions with the mammoth task of needing to win both their next two Cup fixtures, away to Toulon and home to Northampton.

Speaking in Exeter, Rowntree was honest in his assessment: “This competition means so much to everyone in Munster. We’re not out until we’re out. We’ll keep fighting in every game until the last minute of the last game and that’s the way the lads will be looking at it.”

With the last eight in the table at the end of these opening rounds missing out on a quarter final place, Munster will now have to put the Investec Cup on hold.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

Next up is the annual joust with keen rivals Leinster in Thomond Park on St Stephen’s Day.

The southern province also require points in every game from this URC marathon and Rowntree will be aware of the challenge.

In fairness to Munster, they have been hit by key injuries to Peter O’Mahony and Jean Kleyn while trying to ‘blood’ their promising young players such as Ben O’Connor, a star with Presentation College Cork at Munster Schools level who got a taste of European action at the weekend.

Sudden news that RG Snyman will be joining Leinster next season was a surprise and for Munster fans it was equally disappointing.