Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Comeback kings

Van Graan praises Munster's resilience after they produce a stirring comeback

The 14 men came from behind to defeat Ulster 18-13 tonight in Limerick.

JOHANN VAN GRAAN credited his team’s mentality after they eked out a victory with just 14 men tonight.

Trailing 13-6 as the game entered the final quarter, Munster held their nerve, and the ball, to overturn the deficit and record a fine win. The timing could not be better, either – after a week when the team, and their coaching staff, have been heavily criticised.

After tonight’s win, van Graan said: “We’re all really glad to have got the win; that was what we had planned all week to do; obviously the red card made it a bit more difficult, I thought at half-time we had a good tactical discussion in terms of what to do in our backfield, our scrum and our line outs.

“But the week was not tough. We had a normal routine that we stuck to. We had our meeting on Monday after the loss, as we always do. We had a very good training week. We are just very glad about the result.”

The win came on the  back of a great display from Munster’s replacements, with youngster Alex Kendellen scoring the game-changing try.

Van Graan said: “It is always a 23-man effort. Obviously losing Pete in the warm-up we had to adapt. We just said Tadhg is going to start the game, Alex will jump onto the bench. I thought we made good tactical decisions in the game in terms of when to put guys on and everybody played their part. It is always difficult to play a game with a player less, for what 65 minutes, but the belief is always there and tactically we stayed in it.

“We used our opportunities pretty well.”

mike-haley-scores-a-try-despite-michael-lowry Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

And yet early on Munster were outplayed. They actually performed better with 14 men.

“It is all about field position,” said van Graan. “If you look back we conceded the first three or four penalties. That keeps you in your half – and remember we were against one of the very best mauling teams in the competition – and we were seven zero down after that first maul of theirs. I felt our defence was pretty good, our contest on the ground was pretty good, once we got some field position, we got some momentum.

“Then in terms of our defence and kicking game, we realised we could not play with much width if you have just six backs. We subsequently kept the ball in the middle of the park, and I felt we managed that really well. We took our opportunities. We stuck to the game-plan and we are pretty happy with the result.

“We are consistent and composed when it comes to delivering our message at half-time. We don’t really react if it goes very badly or very well. We are a team that knows what we are doing; we are all aligned. It was very calm by all involved.”

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