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'It was an incredibly hot day at Ellis Park' - Van Graan

Munster will arrive back in Ireland with just two points in the bank from their tour to South Africa in the United Rugby Championship.

Munster head coach Johann van Graan during the warm-up.
Munster head coach Johann van Graan during the warm-up.
Image: Gordon Arons/INPHO

Updated at 11.05

MUNSTER WILL arrive back in Ireland with just two points in the bank from their tour to South Africa in the United Rugby Championship, where they suffered back-to-back defeats against the Bulls and the Lions.

Both of the matches were one-score affairs with the Bulls winning 29-24 at Loftus Versfeld while on Saturday the Lions secured their biggest win to date with a 23-21 victory at Ellis Park. Both of these games were played in the same province and with the respective stadiums being only a 44-minute drive apart. Despite the team spending their entire stay in the same region, they weren’t able to acclimatise – very much the same way the South African teams say that they struggle up north.

Johann van Graan conceded that the conditions got the better of them, while the Lions made the most of the game-changing moment in the 50th minute of the match.

“It was an incredibly hot day at Ellis Park”, said a disappointed Van Graan as Munster were preparing to head to the airport straight from the stadium.

“Playing at Ellis Park at 14:00 in the day, we knew that the sun was coming, but we were pretty happy with the first half.

“Then I thought we started our second half pretty well. We thought we scored our fourth try in the 50th minute, but it was disallowed and that was a big momentum shift in the game.

“But well done to the Lions, we just couldn’t stick it out for the full 80 minutes. From a Lions point of view, they kept playing for the full 80 minutes and that’s what they do at Ellis Park. They got rewarded from the scrum towards the backend of the game, so credit to them there.

“Their first try where Van der Merwe ran next to the touchline and finished off was pretty special. They kicked their points and they managed to win by two points.”

One of the major drawbacks of travel from north to south and vice versa is the amount of time it takes and this issue does turn what could be considered a normal week of preparation into a short turnaround. Especially with a game looming against Leinster, Van Graan and his charges will want to hit the ground running when they arrive back home.

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“I am very confident in our group. We are going through a six-day turnaround. We have to travel the long way back home via Paris. Next will be playing against Treviso in Cork and they are also another good team in this competition.

“Then we’ve got Leinster at home before Europe. We will get back home, reassess and then start planning again on Tuesday.”

Munster will tackle the Italian outfit, Benetton, at Musgrave Park in Cork on Friday evening. The kick-off for this game is at 19:35.

About the author:

Morgan Piek

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