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'There were gaps there' - Tommy O'Donnell knows where Munster need to improve

The Irish province left several scoring opportunities behind them in defeat to Clermont last night.

O'Donnell was in impressive form at Stade Marcel-Michelin last night.
O'Donnell was in impressive form at Stade Marcel-Michelin last night.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Murray Kinsella reports from Stade Marcel-Michelin

MUNSTER FLANKER TOMMY O’Donnell says his side need to be more clinical in attack after they left behind a number of opportunities in the first half of their 26-19 defeat to Clermont.

The Irish province were particularly threatening with ball in hand before the break, but all they could show for their ability to stretch the Clermont defence were two penalties from out-half Ian Keatley.

The most glaring of the missed chances came after just 11 minutes, when Aurélien Rougerie superbly shut down a notable Munster overlap with a huge hit on Keatley just metres short of the Clermont tryline.

That incident aside, there were further promising situations for Munster, but Anthony Foley’s men didn’t cross the whitewash until Duncan Casey’s late intercept try.

“I feel that even the two games before this that we were actually better,” said O’Donnell at Stade Marcel-Michelin last night, “so I think we can take it back up to where we were and be a lot more clinical.

If one or two more balls go to hand, we definitely saw that there were gaps there. If they go to hand and we hold onto the ball, I think we’ll have teams in trouble.

“When we find ourselves in behind teams like Clermont, you have to press home your advantage. You have to get tries; penalties probably aren’t good enough. Two penalties and you see how quickly they close that gap.

“We have to keep getting more ruthless and keep punishing teams. When we get in behind them, we have to damage them and score tries.”

Wesley Fofana and Tommy O'Donnell O'Donnell makes a powerful carry for Munster in Clermont-Ferrand. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Keatley’s late, late penalty allowed Munster to secure a losing bonus point, one that may prove to be important at the conclusion of Pool 1.

O’Donnell and his teammates face clashes with Saracens and Sale in January, and they will maintain their intent to progress into the knock-out stages.

“Exactly, you don’t know how the next two games are going to go,” said the Tipperary man.

If you come away with 10 points for those games, you’re in a pretty good position. Nine points, the same; even if you come away with the eight from the two games, you’re in a good position. We’re still alive and still fighting.”

First-half tries for Clermont through Damien Chouly and wing Nao Nakaitaci proved to be decisive in the final outcome last night. While the French side’s attacking quality for those scores is in little doubt, O’Donnell did regret Munster losing their concentration.

“Definitely, in part of the first half there I thought we were going to come away with a win, but little mistakes and mental knock-offs allowed them to get their quick throw-ins.

“I suppose that’s what really broke us, it gave them the lead and they were able to sit back and defend, kind of like last week.”

– First published 06.30

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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