Munster seeking 'perfection' as focus turns to Leinster

Munster seeking ‘perfection’ as focus turns to Leinster

It was a welcome step in the right direction, but if Munster are to get firmly back on track and beat Leinster at the Aviva Stadium this weekend, then they will need to take a few more over the coming days.

There was plenty for the province to be pleased about on Saturday night, even aside from the obvious five points in the table.

Their attitude and energy was outstanding, exemplified by the three separate occasions that they forced the Bulls back over their own tryline.

The attack was good without being perfect, but in spite of some scattered mistakes, the first real pictures and shapes of Mike Prendergast’s attack started to appear.

And in the crunch defensive moments before halftime and full-time they met the Bulls hard at the gainline, winning the individual collisions.

The energy was radiating off Graham Rowntree when he spoke to the media after the game, and while he stressed how “delighted” he was with the 31-17 bonus-point victory, he was acutely aware that Leinster away will require an even more accurate display.

The two Bulls tries were born out of careless mistakes, firstly when they lost their shape from a routine contestable kick, while the second saw the visitors take advantage of some sloppy possession at the ruck.

“We weren’t perfect, so there is improvement required,” he said, as attention turned towards their trip to the Aviva Stadium.

“We will have to be even more clinical around some of our lineout possession. I’m confident we can put pressure on any team if we can keep the ball when we are in their 22. Factually, we are very good with limited minutes, we can score tries. That has been a big focus.

“But we have to be better, we know that.

“You’ve always got to keep looking forward to the next job. There’s always something to do next, We can’t dwell too long… We’ve got to be better, haven’t we?

“We keep striving for perfection but it’s good to see what we’ve been doing in training coming out on the field.”

There will have been plenty around the province who felt they were dealt a difficult hand in recent weeks, with nine players away on duty with Emerging Ireland.

Seven of that group featured on Saturday, and seemed to bring a confident, positive energy which the rest of the team thrived off. Shane Daly looked full of belief, while Calvin Nash on the right wing was putting in a strong shift before his injury on the stroke of half time.

His replacement, Jack Crowley (above), swaggered through the second half, while Tom Ahern and Roman Salanoa also made strong impacts off the bench.

Rowntree says they’ve created some interesting selection calls to be made in the coming days.

“There’s some big [selection] headaches and those guys have been good coming in.

They only trained from Thursday onwards, the Emerging Ireland guys, and they loved that tour, and they came in energised and they brought a different energy to the group. So selection is going to be hard but that’s how we want it.

Rowntree was coy about the prospect of the likes of Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Simon Zebo or Mike Haley returning in time for the trip to Dublin, adding that he won’t know until he sits down with the team medics this morning.

The raft of back three injuries is an indication of how luck hasn’t been on the side of the province this season, even aside from their own poor early performances.

But those breaks even started falling their way on Saturday, with Jeremy Loughman’s try coming off the back of Chris Smith’s careless handling in his own 22. Rowntree, however, believes the loosehead created his own luck.

“Ridiculous! He took it well, I said to him, ‘you’ll never score a try like that again.’

“Maybe, maybe [lucky] but he was just good. He followed up. That was his decision – to follow up, and he got his toe on the ball. It was a pretty decisive score at that point to be fair. I thought he played well.”

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