Heineken Cup 2014: Rob Penney frustrated by Munster errors

Heineken Cup 2014: Rob Penney admits Munster made too many errors after a 24-16 loss to Toulon

Rob Penney has lamented Munster’s errors after a painful 24-16 Heineken Cup semi-final defeat by Toulon.

Despite going into the match in Marseille against the reigning champions as underdogs and outsiders to win the competition, the Munster head coach was left frustrated that they gifted the win to the French side rather than making them work harder for their trip to Cardiff next month.

We just made so many mistakes both sides of the ball

Rob Penney

“The boys prepared really well and they had petrol in the tank but for some reason collectively we didn’t quite have the accuracy,” said Penney. “Everyone made just one slip up across the park and collectively it adds up to a lot.

“I thought we got ourselves into really good positions and then we would make an error. We thought we might end up with two or three clear opportunities, but we ended up with five or six and took Simon [Zebo]’s one. That is the frustration.”

The Irish province failed to get on the side of referee Wayne Barnes early in the match and paid the price for their errors as Jonny Wilkinson gratefully accepted the free shots to apply his favourite brand of scoreboard pressure as Toulon led 18-9 at the break.

Zebo’s second-half try—the only five-pointer in the match—gave the thousands of Munster fans in the Stade Velodrome hope of a comeback only to let Toulon or, more accurately, Wilkinson, back in.

“We just made so many mistakes both sides of the ball,” Penney added. “We showed a lot of courage at times to really get back and support each other when they made some breaches on the back of our errors. Just our skill level wasn’t where it needed to be.

“I think there was probably a lot of doubt whether we could come here and compete like that. All that doubt was outside the dressing room.

“The lads didn’t think it was too daunting. They felt they were in with a shout from the start.”

Munster created several opportunities in the second half, looking the side more likely to score a crucial try, and with eight minutes to go had their biggest decision to make with the score at 21-16: go to the corner or take the three points and hope to win the restart.

Hooker Damien Varley, captain for the day, opted for the corner—a “collective” decision—and another chance to get Munster’s famous driving maul going, but it came to nothing as Munster turned over the ball again—one of 12 in a match which also saw 12 penalties conceded.

“There is no exact science to this and we were very comfortable with the players’ decision making in that regard,” Penney said.

“We’re all fantastic and have 20-20 vision after the event. We knew Toulon would be very difficult there.

“We’d scored one early through a maul and, in this instance, unfortunately, even though the maul didn’t work, Toulon did a great job to disrupt but we still have possession, went through two phases and turned it over again.”

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