‘It’s not good enough, once you are over the line you must score the try’

Ryan Bailey reports from Thomond Park

JOHANN VAN GRAAN lauded the manner in which Andrew Conway responded to his inexcusable error against Connacht last night, not before reminding the Munster winger that ‘it’s not good enough’ to fail to score once over the line.

Conway endured a moment to forget as he squandered a gilt-edged scoring opportunity in the first half of Saturday’s Pro14 inter-pro, with the Ireland international paying the ultimate price for his complacency. 

Fitzgerald dislodges the ball from Conway’s grasp. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Having intercepted Tiernan O’Halloran, Conway casually sauntered towards the posts but, unaware Stephen Fitzgerald was chasing him down, had the ball dislodged from his grasp — a-la poor Freddie Burns — as he eventually looked to touch it down.

It was a horrible mistake and awful error of judgement by Conway, who immediately acknowledged his wrongdoing to team-mates and the crowd by putting his hand up as he jogged back into position. 

Fortunately for the 27-year-old, first-half tries from Tadhg Beirne and Mike Haley established a commanding 17-7 interval lead for Munster, with the hosts crossing again through JJ Hanrahan after the break.

“He took responsibility straight away,” van Graan said. “It’s not good enough, once you are over the line you must score the try. He said it straight away to the team, and if you look at his actions on the field, he had two assists in the next two tries.

“Hand up from his side, it’s not good enough and it’s the next job. A valuable lesson for him to learn.”

At that juncture, Connacht had led through Finlay Bealham’s 23rd-minute try — the prop showing excellent flexibility to ground after the visitors had laid siege on the Munster line.

But the home side’s response was emphatic, with Beirne and then Haley crossing to spare Conway’s blushes, while Tyler Bleyendaal kicked 10 points as Hanrahan’s late score sealed the deal after Connacht had come back within striking distance.  

“It’s always difficult to come from a disappointment and all credit to the players who really turned up for training on Tuesday and Thursday,” the head coach continued.

“We met a Connacht side who believed they could win here tonight and the first 20 minutes, they got in behind us quite a bit. I thought we handled the pressure well and the second 20 we dominated.

“After half-time, we dominated territory but just couldn’t get over the try line. They put our scrum under pressure, we conceded a yellow card and we knew we couldn’t just stand back because they’re such a good attacking side. To score that try with 14 men was pleasing from a mental side. 

Munster extended their winning streak at Thomond Park. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Connacht kept coming back but on the night, I thought the better side won.”

Although Munster restored winning momentum after last week’s defeat to Saracens, it was not enough to top Conference A as Glasgow’s win over Edinburgh assured the Scots of a home semi-final.

Instead, Munster will welcome Benetton to Thomond Park in their quarter-final tie next Saturday, with the winner going on to play Leinster at the RDS on 18 May.

“We put Saracens behind us pretty quickly,” Niall Scannell said. “It was good to shake off all the cobwebs, we’ll recover now and we’re back on the horse and ready to go into a big quarter-final week.

On the challenge of facing Benetton, who became the first Italian side to reach the Pro14 play-offs with a bonus-point win over Zebre yesterday, van Graan added: “They’ve had a brilliant season. Their last game in Ireland they drew with Leinster and we felt it first hand a few weeks ago.

“They’re a side with a lot of belief now, it’s fantastic for their club. It’s our quarter-final, we have to do our planning, we haven’t given that a lot of thought yet because we were in a battle tonight, but we’ll give them the respect they need next week.”

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