Munster players celebrate yesterday's win in South Africa. Frikkie Kapp/INPHO

'Mission accomplished' as JVG praises Munster's game management

The province head into the November break in high spirits after a hard-fought win in South Africa.

MUNSTER HEAD COACH Johann van Graan was a happy man after his team managed to beat a determined Cheetahs 30-26 in the Pro14 on Sunday, hanging on at the death to register their first away win of the campaign.

The southern province dominated the first 40 minutes in Bloemfontein to hold a 15-5 lead at the break, but the Cheetahs soon mounted a comeback in the second period. 

Munster saw their 17-point advantage clawed back heading into the final quarter but the visitors — without 24 senior players through international duty and injury — rebounded strongly to clinch victory.

Mike Haley’s late try, and Rory Scannell’s long-range penalty, ensured a happy trip home to Ireland for van Graan’s youthful squad ahead of the November break. 

The South African coach was delighted with the game management his side showed to close out a tight contest. 

“We sat down after the first couple of rounds in the competition and we had some big wins, while we also lost a few with 14 points or more,” he said afterwards.

“We knew that we could expect tight games in the tournament and we had to figure out how to manage a close game. I thought that we did it well last week against Glasgow, and we did it exceptionally well again tonight.

“That comes from good planning and also from experience. Tyler (Bleyendaal) owned it very well in the first 55 minutes, and when Rory (Scannell) came on he took over the captaincy and carried on with the good work.

“That’s why you need experience. Duncan Williams coming from the bench just settled it all down for us.”

Bleyendaal, on his return from injury, lauded the effort by his troops for remaining composed while they were under the pump.

“It was mission accomplished, for today anyway, and that was the focus,” the out-half said. 

Tyler Bleyendaal Bleyendaal made his long-awaited return against the Cheetahs. Frikkie Kapp / INPHO Frikkie Kapp / INPHO / INPHO

“We had a young squad out there today and it was tough to get our balance during the week. You’ve got to have fun and enjoy it, but you’ve got to train hard as well.

“You do as much as you can to prepare for the challenge, and I do think that the guys responded well. We had a few old heads out there, but we also had a lot of young guys on the park as well.

“The effort they put out there and the way they performed I thought was outstanding.

“We were under a lot of pressure and experienced guys came on to help close the game out. We are just so happy with the result and to leave here with a win is massive for us.

“To head into a two-week break and to be sitting where we are on the log is pretty pleasing.”

The bonus-point win sees Munster move into second place in Conference A, with five wins from eight games. 

With a three-week break ahead, the province are next in action when they travel to Parma to face Zebre on 25 November.

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