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Van Graan 'incredibly disappointed' after Munster fall short against Leinster again

Meanwhile Leo Cullen admitted he was pleased with how his young squad managed the occasion.

Munster's Fineen Wycherley.
Munster's Fineen Wycherley.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

MUNSTER HEAD COACH Johann van Graan described his team’s latest defeat to Leinster as “incredibly disappointing” after Leo Cullen’s heavily-rotated side powered to a 35-25 win at the Aviva Stadium this evening.

The defeat sets Munster up for a trip to play Ulster in the quarter-final stages of the United Rugby Championship on the weekend of 3-5 June, while Leinster, who were already guaranteed to top the URC table, will enjoy home advantage against Glasgow Warriors.

“The first half, they started well and we came back, I felt we created a lot in the first half and not near clinical enough,” Van Graan said.

“We created opportunities and we didn’t use them. Against a team like them they are going to use their chances. Straight after half time we started well and then minutes 49-53, the clock went away so they scored with that penalty try and we went down to 14 and they scored straight away.

Being up 22-18, we went down 32-22 and then we have to play catch-up. We are incredibly disappointed and we came here to win tonight and we weren’t clinical enough to do it so fair play to them.”  

 Munster started the game with 11 of the team that took to the field for their Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulouse, while Leinster made wholesale changes to their squad as they look ahead to next weekend’s Champions Cup final date with La Rochelle.

“I’m not going to get into them resting players, both teams had players unavailable,” Van Graan continued.

“It was two teams selected, they were better than us on the evening. The difference (compared to the Toulouse game) is we didn’t get knocked out tonight.”

Van Graan was also asked to explain Munster’s thinking in the closing stages as they chased the game. A losing bonus-point would have seen the province travel to South Africa to play the Bulls, while two losing bonus points would have secured a home quarter-final.

“Jack (O’Donoghue) and I spoke about all the different scenarios this morning. After the Stormers result, we knew if we wanted to get second, we needed five points. And then what happens if you have four points, three points plus four tries, two points, one point and zero points.

The message when Leinster kicked that last penalty was if we score one more try, we have got four tries and we are within seven, so that’s what we went for to get us the two points, which would have had us at home. But that weren’t to be.

“We potentially overplayed but we were looking for the penalty to hopefully get us into the corner to hopefully get that fourth try and two points. But it wasn’t to be.”

Meanwhile Leinster boss Cullen admitted the manner of his own team’s performance was particularly pleasing given the amount of changes he made to his squad.

“Yeah, it was a really pleasing result, and lots of good stuff in the game,” Cullen said.

“We’re delighted to get the win. You see guys growing in terms of the experience bit, and you want them to be better in the future. And to get through that in front of over 30,000 people, it’s fantastic.”

jordan-larmour-and-keith-earls Larmour made an eye-catching return from injury. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Munster now need to go and win in Belfast if they are to keep their hopes of ending the season with some silverware alive.

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“That’s the way the chips have fallen now,” Van Graan said. “We performed well the previous time we went up there (Belfast) but this is going to be a knockout game, a quarter-final to progress further in the competition. 

“Ulster are a quality side, a good forward pack with a good kicking game. It will be a new competition now, eight teams in it and if you want to go further you’ve got to win your quarter-final and that’s what we need to do against Ulster.”

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Ciarán Kennedy

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