Dan Sheridan/INPHO There was shoot-out agony for Munster.
just short

'We played some unbelievable rugby and we left it all out there'

Munster hooker Niall Scannell took some pride in his side’s performance in defeat to Toulouse.

HAVING LEFT THE field in the 55th minute as part of the usual front-row shuffle, Munster hooker Niall Scannell had to watch what proved to be the remaining 45 minutes of action and the nail-biting shoot-out from the stand like the rest of it.

It all made for desperately tense stuff as Ben Healy’s last-gasp penalty from long-range fell wide, then both teams were off target with drop-goal efforts in extra time, before Munster missed three of their shots in the place-kicking competition to decide the outcome of a thrilling Champions Cup quarter-final in Toulouse’s favour.

Scannell lined up with the rest of the Munster squad as Healy, Conor Murray, and Joey Carbery went forward for the shoot-out, just the second of its kind in the Champions Cup.

“You’re just backing your teammates to do what they’re there to do,” said Scannell. “That’s their role and I certainly didn’t envy them. I was happy when I heard they changed the rule to the three kickers, just thinking back to the old days when there was a few forwards stepping up.

“Look, there is a lot of disappointment but that’s the way it goes. I don’t think there is any dishonour in the way we bowed out, the lads gave it everything.

“They work their absolute socks off all year on their kicking. It’s like golf, it’s a very technical skill, it’s not through lack of effort or anything they did throughout the season. At that point, the cards are going to fall the way they fall.”

It was a devastating finale for Munster after an enthralling game in which they had control during the second half, earning themselves a 10-point lead as the game ticked towards the final quarter.

alex-kendellen-celebrates-a-penalty-with-josh-wycherley Ben Brady / INPHO Munster won a huge number of turnovers. Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

And yet, it felt like Munster needed to take greater advantage of Rory Arnold’s 50th-minute yellow card for tipping Simon Zebo over in a venomous tackle. Just three points from that period didn’t feel like ample return in what was a sloppy spell for Munster.

Toulouse just simply refuse to die and always have the scoring power to reel teams in. They did exactly that, levelling it at 24-24 in the 76th minute and driving the contest all the way to the shoot-out.

Despite the agony, Munster left the Aviva Stadium with their heads held high. From their point of view, this wasn’t at all like some of their previous knock-out stage exits in Europe.

“My overwhelming feeling at the moment is that we’ve been in these scenarios before and I felt we didn’t really fire a shot, we didn’t really give it a proper go,” said Scannell.

“But I feel we played some unbelievable rugby out there today against what’s obviously an incredible side. And we left it all out there. It came down to the finest margins. From our point of view, there is probably a bit more an element of satisfaction in the performance that we haven’t had when we’ve come out on the wrong side before.

“But it’s still obviously hugely disappointing to not come out the right side after the performance we put in. But you’ve got to say hats off to Toulouse, they just did what they needed to do.

“We went toe-to-toe for what, 100 minutes, and they came out on top by the narrowest of margins. Probably still trying to process it all, but that’s my gut feeling.”

And while they will have regrets about not sealing the deal from their winning position in the second half, Munster were delighted about another remarkable showing from their loyal supporters.

stephen-archer-and-niall-scannell-at-the-scrum Ben Brady / INPHO Scannell pictured during a big Toulouse scrum. Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

More than 40,000 people piled into the Aviva to create a raucous atmosphere that will live long in the memory.

“We haven’t had one like that in a while and that was unbelievably special,” said Scannell. “All you listen to in the media is about how tough it is for all families, everyone out there working, but for people to spend their hard-earned money getting the car, the train, to come and watch us for what turned out to be about four hours.

“I think it’s important that they never leave us down. The fans are unbelievable but it’s something throughout my career that I never want to take for granted either.

“There is not a lot of clubs’ fans who would do that for them. As the game ebbed and flowed a bit, they were just there for the whole lot and there were times we definitely needed it.

“I remember coming off at half time when he had that turnover and such an incredible buzz, it’s special on a day like today.”

Get instant updates on your province. With Laya Healthcare, official health and wellbeing partner to Leinster, Munster and Connacht Rugby. 

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel