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Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Ben Brady/INPHO Munster’s Jack Crowley is tackled by Garry Ringrose of Leinster.
# The Kids Are Alright
'I thought we deserved more from the game' - Mixed feelings for Rowntree after derby defeat
The Munster head coach was proud of his team’s efforts but disappointed with the outcome at Aviva Stadium.

THERE WERE MIXED feelings in the Munster dressing room following their 27-13 defeat to Leinster on Saturday evening.

On another day, they could have lost by 20-30 points, Leinster botching a series of good opportunites through their own inaccuracy. Yet the positives for Munster were that some of Leinster’s issues were a direct result of the aggression and intent the visitors brought to the occasion, led by a confident, promising group of young players who certainly look like they are ready to take on greater responsibility this season.

After the game Rowntree spoke about his pride in how those young players stepped up at Aviva Stadium, but admitted there was a ‘sombre’ mood in the dressing room as Munster left Dublin empty-handed, again.

With a number of senior men missing, Rowntree had to back youth on Saturday but it is clear that the latest crop of young talent have something about them.

“They’re great, a very honest group, very diligent, I’ve said before if you’re good enough you’re old enough,” Rowntree said.

Guys are coming in putting their hand up. They’re very down after that, I thought we deserved more from the game. I thought we deserved more, it’s my job to drive them, be honest, keep us going forward.  

“I still see those improvements in how we’re playing, what we’re doing, our intent. I still see it. But again, we’ll work on what we can improve on, that’s access, our discipline, our errors, we dropped the ball at the back of a line-out, they get a penalty, they get a scrum and it’s in the corner, we don’t deal with that, we’ll look at that.

“I have to look at what we’re doing well, because it’s undeniable in my eyes, to keep driving this group forward.

“I thought we scrambled well. It was a tight game at half-time. We scrambled well, collisions are better. I can see what Denis [Leamy] is doing, in training, in meetings, they’re believing in Denis. I’m delighted with how Denis is going.”

munster-take-to-the-field Dan Sheridan / INPHO Rowntree fielded a youthful Munster side against Leinster. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Rowntree may have handed some of those young players more chances to impress earlier in the season but the Emerging Ireland tour denied him that opportunity. While the tour caused friction between the IRFU and the provinces, Rowntree’s official line on it is that the experience was a very beneficial one for the likes of Jack Crowley and Tom Ahern, just two of the young players who applied themselves well against a stacked Leinster side.

“Undeniably. That’s only been good for our lads. At the time, we were well stocked in terms of our squad,” he continued.

“It didn’t help that we lost four of my back three players while they were away but I think it’s been undeniably very good for the lads. They’ve come back with a different energy, a lot of them came back off the bench last week (against the Bulls) and had them tonight because of that. It can only be good for us and for Ireland going forward.” 

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In one sense, the November break can’t come quick enough for Munster as their troubling injury list continues to grow. Having travelled to Dublin without the services of  Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony, Craig Casey, Keith Earls, Andrew Conway and Simon Zebo, they then saw Joey Carbery, Liam Coombes and Jack O’Sullivan all forced off during the game.

Rowntree said the province could look at getting some short-term injury cover in, but for now he’ll count the bodies available to him and focus on Munster’s final challenge of the opening block of URC fixtures, with Ulster visiting Thomond Park on Saturday evening.

With just two wins from their opening six games, it’s another massive test for Rowntree’s squad.

“They’re all big games. When is it not a big game? Momentum wise, we deserve more from tonight and I’ve got to drive that with the lads, because they’re down, they’re young men and they’re down and I’ve got the experience to pick them up, show them what we’re doing well, show them what we can do better. That’s our jobs.”  

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