Graham Rowntree: Munster coach left frustrated after narrow loss to Leinster

Munster head coach Graham Rowntree said his side had only themselves to blame after they missed out on a rare victory against Leinster in Monday’s United Rugby Championship clash in Limerick.

Rowntree’s charges were on course for their first win over their arch rivals at Thomond Park since 2018 as they held a 14-6 lead after they were awarded a penalty try early in the second half.

Leinster dominant with 14 players

But despite having Max Deegan sent to the sin bin for his role in the penalty try, Leinster dominated and scored two converted tries during that 10-minute spell which set up their 20-19 triumph – their 12th successive victory in all competitions this season.

“Without having a load of territory in that first half we were ahead, and then in the third quarter we worked hard for a penalty try, they had a guy in the bin and we concede two soft tries. We can’t do that, we just can’t do that,” the Munster head coach said.

“We lost our way towards the end of our way there against a good team, whoever they seem to put on the field. There’s a lot of familiar faces in that Leinster, team, whoever they field, they’re a class team.

“The most disappointing thing for me was how we dealt with that time after the penalty try, conceding two soft tries.”

Leinster’s two tries were scored rom tap-and-go penalty moves close to Munster try-line. Scott Penny claimed their first one after a clever switch caught the home side’s defence napping, before Dan Sheehan shrugged off two defenders before scoring the second five-pointer which ultimately secured the result for his team.

Rowntree was disappointed with his side’s inability to deal with those moves.

“I think we were waiting for the next fancy movement off the first carry,” he said of Sheehan’s try.

“First thing is first, and we didn’t deal with the first carry, we were looking at what they were trying to do off it. We have to be better in every game, and particularly against a classy team like that.

“There are lots of positives, but when you lose a game like that you focus on the negatives. We’ll review it again as coaches, and move forward in six days in Belfast.

“We spoke about it a lot, they have an armoury of quick-tap moves. We spoke about it, and previewed it in the week, and trained it, but we have to be better.

“In the white-hot heat of the battle we have to be better than that.”

Meanwhile, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen was delighted with the character which was on display from his players.

Pleasing victory

“It’s a pretty unorthodox type of win, isn’t it?,” the Leinster boss said. “But the guys showed great character out there, which is pleasing.

“We’re eight points down at the start of the second half, lose a man to the bin, then to win that next 10 minutes by 14 points, when we accumulate most of our points, that’s really, really pleasing.

“And the last 10 minutes, reasonably controlled, playing the game in the right areas, even though it’s pretty chaotic if you see some of the breakdowns there where players are coming in from all angles, but we managed to get over the line.

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“We’re pleased with a hard-earned four points.”