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Munster head coach Johann van Graan made his feelings clear on Andrew Conway’s error during his side’s 27-14 win over Connacht at Thomond Park on Saturday night. 

In the first half of Saturday night’s clash, Conway intercepted a pass from Tiernan O’Halloran which was destined for Robin Copeland.

The Munster winger took his time to ground the ball under the posts and he was punished when his former teammate Stephen Fitzgerald, slapped the ball out of his hands.

This season we have seen many instances of players taking a lax approach to grounding the ball and then getting punished for it. Freddie Burns for Bath and Marco Zanon for Italy during the Six Nations are just two examples which spring to mind.

How does a coach react to such a situation and how does he deal with it? Van Graan was asked this during the post-match press conference.

“It’s very easy,” van Graan said.

“He took responsibility straight away. It’s not good enough. Once you’re over the try line, you must score the try. He said it straight away to the team and if you look at his actions on the field, he had two assists in the next two tries so hand up from his side, not good enough and it’s the next job. I think a valuable lesson for him today.”

Andrew Conway

In the end, the incident had no bearing on Munster’s path to the playoffs. Glasgow’s win over Edinburgh ensured Dave Rennie’s side secured top spot in Conference A and a home semi-final.

Reflecting on Munster’s performance, which was far from perfect, van Graan knows there is plenty of work to do ahead of their quarter-final with Benetton at Thomond Park next Saturday.

“We met a Connacht a side who believed that they could win here tonight. The first 20 minutes they got in behind us quite a bit. I thought we handled the pressure well and I thought the second 20, we dominated. I thought after halftime, we dominated territory but we just couldn’t get over the try line.

Andrew Conway

“They put our scrum under pressure then, we conceded the yellow card, we knew that we couldn’t just stand back because they’re such a good attacking side. To go and score that try with 14 men was pleasing from a mental side, the fact that we went down a man, scored a try.”

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