Sean McMahon reporting from Thomond Park.
Munster head coach Johann van Graan cut a dejected figure when speaking to the media after his side’s 6-13 loss to Leinster at Thomond Park.
Van Graan arrived at Munster in November 2017 and for the two years after Leinster recorded a win against the southern province just a month later on December 26th, the South African head coach had presided over a pristine record at the famous Limerick venue.
21 games at Thomond Park saw Munster go undefeated until Saturday night, where a herculean defensive performance from Leinster proved too much for the southern province to breach as Ed Byrne’s first half try proved the difference between the sides.
Losing to your bitter rivals at home is always going to hurt but van Graan highlighted the early moments of the match, which included Byrne’s try, as reason for his side’s defeat.
“Obviously very disappointed to lose at home. It was an incredibly tough match. I thought we didn’t start the game well enough. They put us under pressure, we conceded penalties, they kicked us into the corner. Ultimately, their try was the difference in the game. I thought we reassessed quite well at halftime and adapted. We had multiple opportunities in the 22. All credit to Leinster, they kept us out. In the last 10 minutes, we just literally couldn’t get over the try line.”
Van Graan added:
“I thought our discipline in the first half let us down. Against the wind, we literally couldn’t get out. I think the positive in the first half was that we got into their 22 once and we got away with three points. The second half, obviously, we won 3-0 but the fact that we were 13-3 down at halftime, right at the end it cost us. I’ll have to go and have a look at the game, obviously, they were onside for every single phase there at the end and they got rewarded with that penalty and as I said, we lost a crucial lineout.”
Munster captain Billy Holland, who was also up for media duties, reflected the comments of his head coach but also pointed to his side’s lineout errors as something which will sting for some time.
“Johann said there, we gave them a few easy outs in the first half in those conditions with the wind behind them, they get a few penalties and it’s an easy way of getting up the pitch. You can’t give them a 13-0 lead. From a forwards point of view, our lineout has been excellent all season, we had a few inaccuracies, particularly towards the end and that’s not good enough. You need to be spot on there to win games against the likes of probably the best club side in the world.”