Belfast Telegraph

Munster refuse to roll over and fitness shines through to earn flattering draw

Munster 21 Racing 92 21

It must be a source of great comfort to the Munster supporters that not only are their team separated from Racing at the top of Pool 4 by a solitary point scored, but over rounds one and two they have shown they have the mental and physical fitness to pick up points just before the buzzer. (stock photo)
It must be a source of great comfort to the Munster supporters that not only are their team separated from Racing at the top of Pool 4 by a solitary point scored, but over rounds one and two they have shown they have the mental and physical fitness to pick up points just before the buzzer. (stock photo)

By Brendan Fanning

It must be a source of great comfort to the Munster supporters that not only are their team separated from Racing at the top of Pool 4 by a solitary point scored, but over rounds one and two they have shown they have the mental and physical fitness to pick up points just before the buzzer.

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In Swansea a week ago it was to magic up a cherry to put on top of the winning cake against Ospreys; then in Thomond Park on Saturday they salvaged a draw with a late charge that had seemed unlikely the way Racing had been moving through the gears in the third quarter.

"It probably flattered us a bit, getting the draw at the end," captain Peter O'Mahony conceded.

"I don't think we played well enough to win the game, to be honest. We had three or four mental lapses defensively. You can't do that against a team of that quality.

"Around 50 minutes we were on the ropes but we stuck at it. We showed up defensively at important moments.

"We're never a team to roll over, especially not at home. We managed to get the two points at the end, which will stand to us."

X-ray vision wouldn't have revealed those points being accessible when Teddy Iribaren was tapping over the conversion to Juan Imhoff's try in the third quarter, Racing's third of the game.

They were all over Munster like a rash in that period. On top of the grief they were causing the home forwards out of touch they had the upper hand at the scrum. And in Teddy Thomas they had the most dangerous athlete on the field.

Factor in Finn Russell, looking like he was having the time of his life, and Munster looked like a losing bonus point - Imhoff's try put Racing 21-14 ahead - would be a serious achievement.

"I think both teams came to play some positive rugby," Johann van Graan said. "It was like last year's draw in round one -you could have lost and you certainly could have won. We'll take our points and move on.

"The last two years we drew our first game and won the second one - this time around we won our first one and drew the second one. That bonus point away last week was a big moment and the fact that we're top of the group jointly with Racing with four rounds to go is the next step.

"I said to the players afterwards that as a coach all you can ask is they give everything they've got and we did. The players most certainly did."

For Munster moving on means entertaining Edinburgh on Friday night in the Guinness PRO 14. With Scarlets, in second place, heading to Ulster it offers Van Graan's squad the prospect of opening up a decent lead at the top of Conference B.

"We will have some tired bodies from this week, so you would imagine whatever Johann's thinking, there will be changes and it is unbelievably important for us to keep fighting on both fronts," O'Mahony said.

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