Sean McMahon reporting from Musgrave Park.
Johann van Graan, although disappointed with seeing his side lose 0-12 to the Exeter Chiefs at Musgrave Park on Friday night, is determined to see the bigger picture as the PRO14 kicks off next weekend.
Munster were poor in the opening 40 minutes as they conceded two tries and were starved of possession which ultimately cost them the game. A setpiece malfunction in both the scrum and the lineout, in conjunction with unforced errors in attack, sealed their downfall.
However, the two teams were in stark contrast to one another from an experience point of view and this is something which the South African head coach is determined to point out when he spoke to the media soon after the game.
“We played against a well-organised unit,” Van Graan said.
“When we saw their team sheet, [we knew] they were fully loaded. Nine of their starting XV tonight played in a Premiership final and 13 of their 23 played in a Premiership final. You know, we had a lot of guys from the Academy in their tonight and a lot of our third and fourth choice guys were out there and I thought a lot of them had a really good game.
“That’s the thing about experience, that’s the thing about continuity, they were well organised. Like I said before, obviously disappointed to lose but learned a lot of good lessons from some of our players.”
There’s an element of frustration there for Van Graan as in the second-half, Munster were much the better team but they couldn’t find that crucial try despite having numerous excellent opportunities where the home side were just metres from the Exeter line.
“The frustrating thing about this game is we actually created more opportunities than the opposition but their patience on attack was really good tonight. In the second half we created multiple opportunities, they conceded five penalties in a row in their own 22, on their goal line…
“But no problem from our side, very good hitout, obviously disappointed to lose the game but very good to experience the first time we played Exeter as a club and looking forward to the Champions Cup ahead.”
Munster will have learned a lot from this preseason game and you could say the southern province have gained more of an insight because when the two teams line out at Sandy Park in October, the Chiefs will have a much more similar side to the one that played on Friday night than Munster.