A bitter pill to swallow for Munster

Simon Zebo waves to supporters as he leaves the pitch for the last time before retirement after the United Rugby Championship semi-final match against Glasgow Warriors at Thomond Park. Photo: Brendan Moran.

IT WAS difficult to sit in Thomond Park as the minutes ticked away and the reality of a URC semi-final defeat of Munster by Glasgow Warriors began to sink in. 

Glasgow took their chances, they had limited errors, and, to their credit, they deserved the victory.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for a Munster squad who had battled their way to the top of the table after 18 gruelling league fixtures, earned a home tie in the play-offs and then squandered the opportunity of a lucrative home fixture next Saturday that would have reaped in a sizeable income.

Seldom have we seen so many unnecessary errors from the Reds, so many infringements, and so many opportunities lost.

The die was cast after four minutes when Jack Crowley missed a close-in penalty kick at the Ballynanty end. In fairness to the players, they have given their all throughout the season but when it was needed most, against Northampton Saints in the Investico Cup and on Saturday in the URC, they failed to deliver.

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Head coach Graham Rowntree summed up the mood at the post-match interview.

“It’s hugely frustrating. You get yourself in a position, home semi-final and then the game got away from us. It’s about taking opportunities, using the possession and territory that we had. We didn’t take our opportunities. They got the tries that they did without having to do much, to be honest with you. It was just the freak nature of the tries, and then we tried a bit too hard near the try-line.”

Referring to the departure of RG Snyman, Simon Zebo, Joey Carbery, and Antoine Frisch, the coach said: “I just said to the group there, we are saying goodbye to some big names who deserve better if I am honest with you. It’s going to take a while for that to sink in.”

There is some consolation for three of the Munster players with the URC Elite XV naming Jack Crowley, Tadhg Beirne ,and Alex Nankivell, while the Ironman Award was won by Shane Daly.

Incidentally, the three Warriors scorers were earmarked on these pages before the game.