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Munster's front row as good as any other unit in the league boasts Penney

The New Zealander is encouraged by the progress of the province’s home-grown talent.

Replacement Munster prop James Cronin celebrates with try-scorer Keith Earls.
Replacement Munster prop James Cronin celebrates with try-scorer Keith Earls.
Image: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

ROMAIN POITE IS notorious for identifying the dominant scrum and siding with them all match.

The French referee, stood down from Test match duty after he wrongly red-carded Springboks’ hooker Bismarck du Plessis, was forced to change his opinion in the second half of Munster’s 19 — 15 league win over Leinster.

Having started off well at Thomond Park, Leinster’s scrum went from a penalty-gaining positive to a worrying negative. The final act of the game saw the home side march Leinster back towards their own posts before Conor Murray quick-tapped a penalty and launched the ball into the stands.

Munster coach Rob Penney declared, following his first win over Leinster, it was ‘bloody great to have a victory against a great side’. He told TheScore.ie, “That’s just always good from a coaching perspective, to have a tight win against a good side. I’m just really pleased for the lads, they’re the ones who do all the work.”

The work Penney was most impressed with, despite his praise for inspired outhalf Ian Keatley, was the grimy goings-on up front. The Kiwi may have been a handy flanker in his playing days but he holds a true appreciation for machinations of the up close and personal variety.

“The set-piece is working brilliantly,” he declared. “Axel [Foley] has done a great job on the scrum and maul, he’s an expert in that area and the boys are embracing everything he’s doing. We’re getting outcomes in those areas.” Penney added:

Our scrum is functioning efficiently enough. The calibre of the front-row here is as good as it is anywhere. It’s great to see young blokes like [Stephen] Archer and [Dave] Kilcoyne really fronting up and then James Cronin coming on to do a great job.”

“It’s great news for Irish rugby; I was hoping to squeeze John Ryan in tonight after playing last week very well. So the signs are good in terms of the front-row development.”

While Penney is confident his side can take their bustling form into the Heineken Cup opener away to Edinburgh, his take on captain Peter O’Mahony’s participation is measured. The blindside was taken off with concussion-type symptoms at half-time.

imageMunster, under Rob Penney, ended a four game losing streak against their close rivals. INPHO/Dan Sheridan

“We have quite good depth so we didn’t compromise him and we took him off,” Penney revealed. “There’s no need to put him through anything more given that he shipped an obvious knock. The medical team were happy with where he was at.”

Penney confirmed that his captain had displayed no ill effects immediately after the final whistle on Saturday. “We needed to take him out of the fray,” he added. “With a head injury, you never want to make statements regarding availability.”

– Additional reporting by Sean Farrell

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Patrick McCarry

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