Champions Cup: Munster failed to cope with Toulouse’s power says Graham Rowntree

Jared Wright
Munster's Graham Rowntree before the Heineken Champions Cup

Munster head coach Graham Rowntree highlighted his side’s inability to cope with Toulouse’s power game in their Champions Cup opener as their downfall.

The Irish province fell to an 18-13 opening-round defeat to the French club, with Rowntree admitting that Toulouse’s power game was ‘something they didn’t solve that well’.

Maul key to Toulouse’s success

In thick fog at Thomond Park, Toulouse used the maul to great success, with the drive leading to two tries as the Top 14 outfit worked the ball wide for tries from Matthis Lebel and Lucas Tauzin either side of the break.

At half-time the sides were level at 10-10, and Rowntree pinpointed a period early in the third quarter when Toulouse struck for their second try with Munster, despite a promising maul platform, leaving crucial points behind them.

“We did lots of good things, particularly with ball in hand, but again it comes down to access, giving them access to our five-metre line. They scored two tries from us doing that. We’ve got to do that better,” he insisted.

“Conversely, we’ve got to be better and more clinical when we get on their five-metre line, and we get our maul opportunities. That’s the game when you play against huge teams like this. They’re top of the French league for a reason.

“You play huge teams like this; you’ve got to deal with their power. As much as you’re holding onto the ball and we’re looking good in attack – and we are – you’ve got to deal with their power. That’s what we didn’t do.”

Looking ahead

Following the defeat to Toulouse, Munster head to Northampton Saints next Sunday, and Rowntree acknowledged that it is “a huge game” for his side to boost their hopes of reaching the knockout stages.

“I said to the lads in there; nothing changes. We’ve just got to get better and keep working on what we’re doing,” he added.

“We got out of this with a bonus point; that wasn’t the intention before the game, but we got a bonus point, and we’ll go to Northampton next week, have a good week, review this, lick our wounds, and we’ll keep driving forward.”

A good win for Toulouse

Toulouse flanker Anthony Jelonch praised his side’s ability to grind out the win over Munster, their third straight one, including their unforgettable penalty shootout last May.

“We expected a big battle from Munster, and we got it,” he said. 

“It’s a very good win for us. They put a lot of pressure on us during the first quarter and controlled possession.

“But we managed to score at crucial stages and defended well. We got our hands on the ball more in the second half, and that’s what won us the game. It’s a good foundation for us to build on.”

Toulouse are back at home in their second fixture, where they welcome Premiership club Sale Sharks, who head into the match off the back of thrashing Ulster 39-0.

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