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Van Graan talks up hero Hanrahan after Munster’s great escape

The out-half scored the winning points with a last-minute drop goal.

JJ Hanrahan slots over the winning drop goal.
JJ Hanrahan slots over the winning drop goal.
Image: Elena Barbini/INPHO

MUNSTER COACH JOHANN Van Graan heaped praise on JJ Hanrahan for holding his nerve in Italy tonight.

The Irish province scraped home, 18-16, against the Pro14’s weakest side, with Hanrahan settling affairs with the final kick of the game.

“We played against a very good side tonight,” said Van Graan in an interview with eir Sport. “We started the game really well, got some momentum and scored two good tries.

“But it was a big breakdown battle. Benetton worked very hard. We stuck to it right until the very end and for Munster, it is never over until the final whistle goes.

“What happened at the end (when Hanrahan scored his last-gasp drop goal) is in our armoury. When you get to a three-point game, at the final play of the game, you need a good maul as well as good composure. We had that.

“So for JJ to get that score was just marvellous.”

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But Munster’s two-time Heineken Cup winner, Peter Stringer, was critical of the team’s defensive display against the Conference whipping boys.

“Munster were caught quite narrow on more than one occasion,” Stringer said in his capacity as an eir Sport pundit. “Defensively they won’t be happy with their performance tonight and JP Ferreira will, I am sure, have strong words to say to the team.

“We know Benetton can play with a lot of width but Munster stood off them – a team who have not won a (Pro14) game all season.

“Munster were very passive in defence and we only saw a couple of occasions where they got off that line with decent linespeed to put Benetton under pressure.

“They allowed Benetton that freedom to play with width. What’s more, Munster struggled to stop them at the breakdown as well.”

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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