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Van Graan rues 'basic errors' as Munster turn attention to 'the best team in the Pro14'

The southern province suffered a bonus-point defeat to Cardiff Blues.

Munster head coach Johann van Graan.
Munster head coach Johann van Graan.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

JOHANN VAN GRAAN admitted his Munster team made too many mistakes to deserve victory as they were beaten 25-18 by Cardiff Blues yesterday.

The visitors produced a poor first-half display as tries from Macauley Cook, Lloyd Williams and Owen Lane put the Blues 19-5 up at the break. Munster never recovered despite moving the score back to 19-15 after Stephen Fitzgerald added to Chris Cloete’s earlier effort.

Tyler Bleyendaal’s penalty with the last kick of the game did secure a losing bonus point, but Van Graan wasn’t happy with what he’d seen.

“The first half most definitely cost us the game. When you play away from home and you’re 19-0 down, you can’t be expected to win the game,” said Munster’s South African head coach.

“The disappointing thing was that it was all our own errors. Credit to the team because at half-time we reassessed and said that it wasn’t good enough.

“I thought we did well to come back to within one score at 19-15 and we had a couple of opportunities to get in front, but didn’t use them. At the end to come away with a losing bonus point, I think I’ll take that.”

Cook, Williams and Lane all scored within eight minutes as Munster kicked the ball dead, had clearances charged down and lost two line-outs.

After the break Van Graan’s men were better and Fitzgerald dived over following a yellow card for Blues hooker Matthew Rees. But two late penalties from home out-half Jarrod Evans sealed Munster’s demise even though Bleyendaal did salvage something right at the end.

“The mood of the squad is disappointment. We came here to win even though we always knew Cardiff were a good side,” Van Graan said. “The disappointing thing for us is we didn’t make them work very hard. It was our own errors and they were basic errors.

Sammy Arnold under pressure from Jarrod Evans Munster's Sammy Arnold under pressure from Jarrod Evans of Cardiff Blues. Source: Kevin Barnes/INPHO

“I don’t think it was a slow start. In the first eight minutes we played very well, we had a kick at goal and missed that and then we had a charge-down and kicked one ball straight into touch. It’s not that we lost the territory battle or the possession battle.”

Defeat in Cardiff means Munster have now fallen 16 points behind rivals Glasgow Warriors at the top of Conference A of the Guinness Pro14.

The Scottish side are next up for Van Graan’s men on Friday. Munster must improve from their display in the Welsh capital against the Warriors or go down to another reversal.

“There are no serious injuries, just a few bumps and bruises but nothing too serious,” Van Graan said. “Glasgow are playing fantastic rugby. You only had to look at their performance against the Cheetahs on Friday night to see that and they’ve only lost once all season in the Pro14.

“We’re coming up against the best team in the Pro14 on Friday night so we’ll have to improve and that’s what we’re planning on doing this week. We’ll look at this game emotionally and then come back in on Monday and start again at zero.”

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