Graham Rowntree ‘immensely proud’ after historic win at Bulls as Munster relishing ‘pressure games’

Adam Kyriacou
Munster head coach Graham Rowntree.

Munster head coach Graham Rowntree.

Munster head coach Graham Rowntree hailed his side for sticking to the pre-game plan as they sealed an historic victory over the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.

Their impressive 27-22 triumph makes the Irish province the first European outfit to win at Loftus Versfeld as they once again impressed on South African soil.

The fixture against the Bulls is the first part of a two-match visit to the country for Munster, with the dangerous Lions in Johannesburg next on their schedule.

South Africa tour

Before that clash they will head to Cape Town for the week to enjoy some down-time in the lead-up to the Ellis Park game as they look to end the season strong.

Rowntree was understandably elated after the Pretoria result as tries from Shane Daly, RG Snyman, John Hodnett and Conor Murray helped seal a famous win.

“We had a good plan going into this game against this team, at altitude,” he told the Irish Independent. “We stuck to that plan. We spoke at the end of the game about dealing with adversity and moving on quickly from errors. I thought we did that.

“We were in a good place at half-time, and not such a good place in the third quarter but we kept playing. We had an exceptional bench to come onto the field.

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“We have so much respect for South African teams and when you come down here and have a short training week at altitude, you have got to be good and I’m immensely proud of the lads for that effort today against a very good team.”

It was a victory built on solid defence and clinical attack and Rowntree was quick to praise defence coach Denis Leamy after their win as they stifled the Bulls.

“We can be so much better, especially in those goal-line stands,” he added. “We have one of the best defensive coaches in the league that the players believe in and you need that coming down here. To defend the power game and how these teams can rip you apart on counter attack, you have to have a good defence.”

Munster’s impressive away triumph sees them leapfrog the Bulls into third place in the United Rugby Championship, with only Leinster and Glasgow above them.

Face in-form Lions

However, they are set to face another tough fixture this coming weekend as the Lions await, fresh off defeating Leinster 44-12, as Rowntree prepares for the run-in.

“We are used to this – pressure games at the end of the season and we take it week by week,” he said.

“We have another game like this next week, and that’s it, game by game. See what we have available and how the bodies present themselves on Monday morning.”

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