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Coach knows Munster are punching above their weight

Munster 20 Toulon 19

Andrew Conway
Andrew Conway

By Staff Reporter

In the moments before their team took to the Thomond Park field, Munster's fans joined the soloist on the pitch for a rendition of 'Stand Up and Fight'. Never has the line about going toe-to-toe proved more apt.

Johann van Graan reached for a boxing metaphor as obvious as it was fitting. His team are middleweights in the heavyweight division, forced to go through the behemoths of France to get to the Basque Holy Grail.

Bilbao beckons, but first they must head to South Africa for a fortnight of Guinness PRO14 action, before returning home briefly before travelling to Bordeaux to face Racing 92.

Toulon were the better team at Thomond Park on Saturday. Somehow, for all of their pressure, for all of their world-class operators on show, they couldn't cross the line.

Andrew Conway's late try helped seal victory.

The visitors were behind at the break after a moment of brilliance from Conor Murray. Two penalties from Francois Trinh-Duc either side of Chris Ashton's try saw Toulon retake the lead, but then Andrew Conway weaved his way over the line to seal victory.

Van Graan described the changing room as a war zone and the sight of Simon Zebo and Murray limping off is the major concern. Both Ireland internationals travel to South Africa for the two-game mini-tour ahead of their clash with Racing.

"It's an interesting scenario, when I took the job it was one of the first things that I saw," van Gaan said of the tour, which takes in a clash with the Southern Kings and a meeting with Cheetahs.

"At that stage, getting to a quarter-final was a long way away. To play in a quarter-final, hopefully win it, fly to South Africa, play two away games and then fly back and go into a European semi-final was always going to be tough. Now, it's a reality."

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