Guinness PRO12: Munster need to learn from final defeat

Head coach Anthony Foley believes the Irish province need to bounce back from disappointing end to the season

By Gareth Llewellyn at the Kingspan Stadium

Anthony Foley insists that Munster must ensure they keep moving forward after their 31-13 defeat to Glasgow Warriors in the Guinness PRO12 final.

Looking for a first trophy since winning the league in 2011, the Irish province were chasing the game throughout after Rob Harley’s early try gave the Warriors a lead they would never give up as Munster failed to combat a powerful offloading and superior kicking game.

It’s hard to take but a lot of us have been through this situation before, and it’s about understanding it, learning from it, and making sure we keep going forward.

Anthony Foley

What could have been the perfect send-off for Munster and Ireland talisman Paul O’Connell before his impending move to European champions Toulon, and a number of other players set to leave this summer, turned into an evening to forget as the Warriors ran in three first-half tries, with a fourth coming in the second 40 through outside-half Finn Russell.

Munster’s success, brief as it was, saw Andrew Smith find a way to touch down on the line, while outside-half Ian Keatley added eight points off the tee. It was nowhere near enough and all too often Foley’s side were outfought and outgunned as they struggled to create many opportunities in Glasgow’s half.

And head coach Foley concedes that the Warriors were the better side and deserving of their victory.

“Glasgow were everything that we thought they were capable of,” he said.

“It’s hard to take but a lot of us have been through this situation before, and it’s about understanding it, learning from it, and making sure we keep going forward.

“It’s a relatively young side. We’ll obviously lose a few guys, but hopefully we can get back into this situation again next year.

“With the way the league is now run, it’s hard enough to get into the top four, never mind make it to the final, so it’s about maintaining what we’re doing and building on it.

“We have a good squad; we need to learn from this, and come back stronger.”

The Warriors’ Fijian lock Leone Nakarawa was at his rampaging, offloading best and Munster continually failed to control the forward, particularly in the first half as he helped set up tries for Rob Harley and DTH van der Merwe as the Warriors flooded support channels.

Worse for the Red Army masses, who had made the arduous journey up from Munster, there was very little to cheer about as they were outfought at the breakdown and failed to win the kicking game, with the Warriors on top in most areas.

And Foley admits that Munster failed to execute their game plan which left them unable to put any scoreboard pressure on the Scots.

“If you allow Glasgow to get into the open field, and time and space, their players will look to get through offloads and run through channels,” he added.

“We saw that in abundance in the first half and it was just disappointing we didn’t control it, because we had prepared for it.

“Nor did we control the kick side of the game, allowing them easy possession in our own half, and we got turned over way too often at the breakdown.

“Also in the second half we tried to play from too deep.

“Being 21-10 down at half-time, it became very important to score first, which we did. We took three, but you could argue that we should have stayed there and tried to get seven.

“But we went for three and, at that stage, the game was in the balance and, unfortunately, we didn’t get to within a score of them.

“If we had done that they might have been catchable, but it didn’t materialise for us and fair play to them some of their support play and offloading was second to none.”

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