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'It was a good grind': Rassie satisfied with 2nd seed and Munster's steep upward curve

The South African’s team continue to show a hunger to work their way through problematic matches.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THERE WAS SOMETHING almost apologetic about Johan ‘Rassie’ Erasmus after Munster’s 22 – 10 win over Racing 92 last night.

The result against the same club away in Paris fortnight ago undoubtedly coloured expectation for the pool finale at Thomond Park. But while the badge and some of the personnel of the opposition was the same, as a team Racing were a completely different prospect.

“It was a tough match physically. You could see two weeks ago, Racing decided to turn their season around. The performance against Leicester last week showed that,” said Erasmus.

“We knew it was going to be one of those games where they’re going to have big moments and we’re going to have to grind it out and try to handle the big moments. It was a good win at the end, but certainly not the prettiest game.”

There was no need to apologise for aesthetics, of course. The southern province went into the game knowing an 11-point winning margin would sandwich them in between Clermont and Saracens as the competition’s second seed. A status which is even more important in the Champions Cup era as it brings not only a home quarter-final, but also a likely home country advantage if Munster manage to make the semis.

The only downside to the night was a thumb injury to James Cronin which Erasmus could only diagnose as far as: “it doesn’t look good.”

The prize has been hard won by this side, playing three European games on three consecutive weekends to close out the pool, and winning all three.

Ian Keatley scores their third try Ian Keatley scored the decisive try just seconds after replacing Simon Zebo. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“Relieved we got a home quarter and to sneak in there at second is satisfying,” adds the former Springbok.

“You could see the Glasgow game certainly took its toll on the guys. It definitely wasn’t pretty, but we knew we had to beat them by 11 and we beat them by 12. It’s satisfying, It wasn’t beautiful, but it’s there.”

We’re learning and cool heads showed at the end. We were calm enough to know we could have gone for the fourth try or just beat them by 11 points, which we did. I can’t point too many fingers in their direction. It was a good grind.”

“Peter O’Mahony summed it up well in the changing room afterwards. You could see the boys were frustrated with the performance, but to finish second and have a chance to try and compete to go a bit further shows the team is growing.

“If this was presented to us in June-July last year we would have said: ‘wonderful, what a great season!’

CJ Stander and Henry Chavancy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“The trick is now not to say that. The trick is to say we’re in a position to go a little bit further. Let’s  try and see how the injuries are when the guys come through the internationals and see how fit of a squad we have when we get to the quarter-finals.

“In that regard, it’s satisfying that we’ve got an upward curve.”

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Sean Farrell

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