Rowntree happy with elements of Munster's game but 'wanted more' from second half

Munster earned their first win of the season but failed to secure a four-try bonus point in their 21-5 success over Zebre.

Munster boss Graham Rowntree.
Munster boss Graham Rowntree.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

GRAHAM ROWNTREE HAD mixed feelings about Munster’s 21-5 victory over Zebre at Musgrave Park, albeit most of them were positive.

The southern province’s new head coach got off the mark in his tenure, as did his side for the season, but not without frustration: Munster failed to secure a home bonus point against a side which, for all their improvements, remain one of the weakest in the competition. They also failed to score in the second half for the second week in a row.

In his immediate assessment post-match, Rowntree admitted he was “delighted” to win the game but disappointed with aspects of his side’s error-strewn performance in attack which stifled their chances of adding a fifth point to their tally in the URC table.

Munster, though, got on the board after back-to-back defeats, the latest of which to the Dragons was deemed unacceptable by their head coach. And getting on the board is a start, at least.

“Delighted with the win after the week we’ve had,” Rowntree said. “Delighted with the win but I’d love to have come away with a bonus point. We’ll look at what we can do better in the second half in terms of ball retention.

“Our ambition is good, but we’ve got to look after the ball.

It was frustrating, but you’ve got to crack on. We showed some good game control, our set-piece was in good nick, our maul in particular, and the second half became fractured, stop-start, injuries, and was littered with our own errors, our own controllable errors.

“I wanted more from that second half, more points. I wanted more from our territory and possession in midfield, we needed more points.”

With a trip to Galway to face win-starved Connacht next up for Munster on Friday, and an equally tough-looking block of games to follow, Rowntree stressed that his side’s first win of the season was a key step in their progress.

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Four points against Zebre may not have been optimal but it at least closes the book on last week’s disappointment and offers at least some peace of mind, but with significant room to improve.

“It’s important for momentum,” Rowntree said. “It’s been a tough, short week, but a tough week on many fronts. We needed the win, and needed to show elements of the game we’ve been working on exceptionally hard.

“I was just disappointed with the consistency of our ball retention.”

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