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Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Craig Watson/INPHO Munster’s Craig Casey celebrates scoring their first try.
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Munster's away day success comes at perfect time to jumpstart ambitions
It was only one month ago that the province’s faithful would have been worried for what was to come.

IT TOOK FIVE attempts and, even then, Munster had to come from behind, but they finally have their first away win since Graham Rowntree took over as head coach.

It has come in time to jumpstart their URC and European ambitions a week before Toulouse head for Thomond Park.

A month ago, even the Munster faithful must have been looking at that fixture and wondering how bad it could be. The seemed to have lost their mojo, losing five of their first seven games and sinking into boring mid table in the URC. No longer. After three wins on the bounce, there is an air of confidence around the side and Rowntree says the game next week is one everyone can salivate over.

What gave him heart was not just the away win against a dangerous Edinburgh side with ambitions of their own and a host of current internationals to bolster them, but the way it was achieved. Five tries and a dominant performance from the pack are about as good as it gets when it comes to these games.

“We gave them some freebies early on,” he said. “We had spoken about how dangerous they were in attack but we were falling off tackles, threw an intercept and gave them access to our 22 with a poor penalty.

“We scored some good tries before half time, including a crucial one just before the break, because we hadn’t had a lot of territory up to then. The half time talk was all about being patient and sticking to the plan. The message was to keep the ball and be a bit more direct.”

It worked. Munster had been 12 points down at one stage, clawed their way back to five back, conceded again and still managed to go into the changing room only three points in arrears.

The second half saw both sides transformed as Munster waxed and Edinburgh waned, bringing another three tries, all converted, and a penalty. All done without letting Edinburgh score a point.

What really impressed and gave hope was the way the pack took charge. Led by man of the match Jean Kleyn at lock, Munster made a mess of the Scots line out, more than matched their opponents at scrum time and stopped making the silly mistakes that had hurt them before the break.

With a flood of ball, Joey Carberry was able to unleash his back of tricks at fly half and the inevitable tries followed. It is a recipe that give them hope for when they face the French force heading their way before they head for Northampton.

“The next two games see us go into Europe, which has always been special for the club,” Rowntree added. “It is important that with all the lads back from the Autumn Internationals and a few lads back from injury, our league form had to be better in these last two games. With that in mind I am delighted with the last two weeks.”

Is this the rebirth of the real Munster after an early season rebuild? “I hope so,” was Rowntree’s reply. “There is a great balance to our game, we have worked very hard on that.

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There have been a lot of moving parts – we have used 56 players for one reason or another but, as I constantly say to the lads, I have full belief in what we are doing.

“Even in those games we were not winning, we were showing signs of what is going to come. Now we are heading into a special week, a European week, a top French team at Thomond Park, we can’t wait.”

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