Munster deflated after home turf loss against Saints

A dejected Alex Kendellen after the weekend loss at Thomond Park. Photo: Brendan Moran.

HOT on the heels of Rugby World Cup 2023, the Investec Champions Cup has stepped in to provide top class entertainment for Munster fans. 

As Storm Isha battered the country, the drama of the last games of the qualifiers were played out like a gripping TV drama. Only following the three televised fixtures, the Group contestants were decided and Munster will be satisfied with their trip to Franklin’s Gardens to meet Northampton Saints in April.

Head coach Graham Rowntree was certainly not a happy bunny at the post match interview, declaring that his side played a big part in their own downfall.

“We just lost our way,” Rowntree said. “We spoke at half time about how it wasn’t just going to happen against 14 men. Second half we came out and immediately gave some soft penalties away. We were running when we meant to kick and kicking when we meant to run. The game just got away from us a bit and they grew a leg, didn’t they?”

Behind all the disappointment at the latest home loss, Munster will be comforted by qualification.

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It promises to be one of the matches of the round but it is unlikely that the Saints will consider a move to a bigger venue than their 15,249 capacity.

Trooping out of Thomond Park, the mood was low with fans lamenting recent defeats to Leinster, Connacht, Ulster, Exeter, and now at home to Northampton.

Team captain Tadhg Beirne summed up the worrying pattern: “We were trying to come together and talk about being clear and smarter with the ball, but as Wig (Rowntree) said, we still have a bit to learn about managing those conditions better.”

Munster will put that display now behind them. They will be well prepared and in a good place by April 6, hopefully the playing conditions will be conducive to their style of rugby and they could well advance to the quarter-finals where they would play the winners of the Bulls v Lyon tie.

They have played Northampton on a couple of occasions, the most memorable being the final of the 2000 Heineken Cup, when the boot of Paul Grayson proved to be their downfall. Munster lost 9-8 at Twickenham, the full back landing three penalties to a David Wallace try and penalty by Ronan O’Gara.