Munster’s boss makes bold claim after derby defeat to arch-rivals Leinster

Colin Newboult
Munster celebrate Craig Casey's try against Leinster in the URC.

Munster celebrate Craig Casey's try against Leinster in the URC.

Head coach Graham Rowntree insists that Munster’s rivalry with Leinster is ‘shifting’, despite their loss in Dublin on Saturday.

Leo Cullen’s men claimed a 21-16 triumph over the visitors, but they were made to work for their win throughout.

Munster started impressively and went 10-0 ahead via Craig Casey’s try and Jack Crowley’s penalty, but Leinster fought back and touched down three times through Jamison Gibson-Park, Dan Sheehan and Jordan Larmour.

Following the semi-final win

This was the first meeting between the two since Rowntree’s side shocked the Leinstermen in last season’s United Rugby Championship semi-finals.

On that occasion, Cullen decided not to play his strongest side, but the majority of their Ireland stars featured in Saturday’s clash.

“It is shifting. We proved that in May and that was a fully loaded team they had there [yesterday] and we could have beat them,” Munster’s boss said.

“We could have beat them. A lot of that is in our control and we will have a look at that. We have to build momentum. We have a huge game in Cork next Friday night now against Glasgow.

“We’ve got some battered young and old bodies to look after and we will move forward but I take an immense amount of pride for the stack of things we did well in that game.”

It was not perfect from either side but the match was a great advert for Irish rugby and the URC in general as these two giants battled it out for 80 minutes.

“I thought it was a hell of a game,” Rowntree said. “We will look at ourselves, our composure when we get near the opposition try line. We were held for a goal line drop out early in the game and if we had scored there it changes the context of the next quarter.

“There’s elements of the third quarter as well that we will look at what we can do better on the opposition try line, look at those chances and where we can make better decisions. But that was a proper team, 50,000 people at the Aviva, and I’m immensely proud of our performance.”

Leinster’s view

Following the result, Leinster sit second in the URC table with five victories out of six, while Munster are in eighth after their second defeat of the season.

“Defensively I thought we stood up well,” Cullen said. “They had a couple of breakouts and we had some chances and it was only until Jordan scored and we went eight points clear at that stage.

“We had other chances to score again but we just didn’t take them. It was a bit of that. It was toing and froing wasn’t it?”

READ MORE: Leinster recover from poor start to edge out rivals Munster in thrilling derby