Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Laszlo Geczo/INPHO Munster players in a huddle after the game.
'I'm proud of the lads' - Rowntree pleased with Munster's fight despite defeat in Dublin
The province battled hard but ultimately came up short against Leinster.

MUNSTER HEAD COACH Graham Rowntree said he was proud of his team’s efforts despite coming away from this evening’s United Rugby Championship derby meeting with Leinster on the wrong side of a 27-13 defeat.

The province made the trip to Dublin without the services of Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony, Craig Casey, Keith Earls, Andrew Conway and Simon Zebo, to name only some of their absentees, but a youthful Munster side brought a level of aggression and intent that has too often been missing from this fixture in recent years.

“I’m proud of the lads. I just told there, I’m proud of them,” Rowntree said.

There’s a sombre mood in there, some young men who wanted to do better. I thought they deserved better than the scoreline. But I’m proud of them. I asked them to fight, keep fighting, get off the floor, keep fighting. I asked them to be brave and they did that.

“I thought they deserved more from that game. They managed the yellow cards quite well. Tight game at half-time and then we had a raft of injuries, which didn’t help momentum.

“And then a couple of key opportunities where we gave them access to our 22 and they are exceptional there.”

The visitors trailed by just one point at half-time, but a Leinster team stacked with internationals eventually pulled clear in the second period.

“You can’t deny the experience that they’ve got on the field and how they play the game and how they kicked tactically,” Rowntree said of Leinster.

“There is no denying we had a lot of young men but they will be better for that experience. I can’t tell you again how proud I am of their effort.”

Now Munster head into another testing URC derby, with Ulster coming to Thomond Park next Saturday. With just two wins under their belt from the opening six rounds of fixtures, the pressure is on with the province needing to start putting points on the board.

Rowntree admitted today’s defeat leaves them in a tough position ahead of the final round of URC games before the international break.

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“Yeah, it does and that’s undeniable but we drive on. We keep improving. I’m seeing elements of our game coming through, elements of how we are training coming through as I did last week.

“We keep driving that and look at what we can do better. It’s been challenging. The injury list has been mounting. Everyone gets injuries, I’m not blaming that, it’s a fact.

“There’s a lot of young men there having to step up and they’re learning. They’ll be better for it. We’ll have a very honest review again and we drive on.” 

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