Heineken Cup 2014: Paul O’Connell calls for Munster consistency
Heineken Cup 2014: Paul O'Connell wants Munster to show consistency after a 47-23 win against Toulouse on Saturday
Paul O’Connell wants his Munster team-mates to find consistency after bouncing back from a league defeat to Leinster to crush Toulouse 47-23 in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.
The Munster legend led the province to European success in 2008 with a win against the same French opposition at the Millennium Stadium.
It’s a challenge for us now to maintain that kind of consistency in both the Rabo and the Heineken Cup going forward
And with reigning champions Toulon or Leinster to come in a semi-final which will take place in Marseille or Dublin in three weeks’ time, O’Connell was level-headed about what they can expect after their win at Thomond Park.
“I wouldn’t say we don’t fear anyone,” O’Connell said. “We’re probably the smallest team left in the competition. If you look at the size of the other teams, even Toulouse today are a lot bigger than us.
“We didn’t get a look in last week against Leinster, but today was a step up for us. It’s a challenge for us now to maintain that kind of consistency in both the Rabo and the Heineken Cup going forward.”
The second row forward also reserved special praise for Munster’s backs for their work at the breakdown to give them a great platform to work off.
“A lot of the ball you get in rugby matches now isn’t off set piece any more, it’s off turnovers and balls won on the ground,” O’Connell added.
“When we did turn the ball over and when we did win it, the backs were excellent.
“Keith Earls, Simon Zebo, Casey Laulala, Ian Keatley, James Downey – all the boys were really, really good off turnover ball. It is probably the fourth set piece you need to be good at and they were excellent.”
“It was great to get off to the start we did, into the wind. We scored a try which dusted off the cobwebs of last week and I think Keats knocked it over from the touchline into the wind.
“He hit a penalty and it was 13-3 early on and into the wind, which was great.”
Munster infringements allowed Toulouse to get back into the game with the gap just four points at the break and O’Connell was pleased with a second-half performance which saw their powerful driving maul come to the fore and brought five tries for the home side with the lock going over for the final try at the death.
“It was brilliant,” he said. “Technically we have a very good maul. For all the Irish provinces, it is something they work very hard on and we certainly got a lot of reward from it today, particularly when we came out in the second half.
“It probably laid the foundations for two early tries that put us in a great position. Toulouse had to chase the game as well. The maul was really satisfying.
“We came out in the second half, scored the tries early and they had to chase the game. They scored some tries, but we were able to pick them off as well and score some tries on counter attack.
“It was a brilliant performance. I never dreamed we’d score as many points as we did, or as many tries as we did. Delighted for everyone.”