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Sickness in Munster camp not to blame for loss - Beirne

By PA
Munster players comiserate after their Champions Cup exit - PA

Northampton director of rugby Phil Dowson insisted it is possible for Saints to challenge on two fronts after reaching the quarter-finals of the Investec Champions Cup.

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A riveting 24-14 round-of-16 victory over Munster at a blustery Franklin’s Gardens has set up a last-eight appointment with South African side the Bulls next weekend.

It took two tries in the final quarter from replacement wing George Hendy to break the Irish province, who later revealed they had been affected by a bug that swept through their squad.

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Jacques Nienaber on pressure and Munster fan reactions

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Jacques Nienaber on pressure and Munster fan reactions

Northampton lead the Gallagher Premiership and could now progress deep into Europe, forcing Dowson to carefully manage his playing resources as they target the double.

“I think it’s feasible, but we have to keep our feet on the ground,” said Dowson, who was missing England full-back George Furbank through injury.

“One of the things we’ve been blessed with is the competition within the squad. We’ve had a lot of players contributing and we left a lot of players out this week who were unlucky not to be involved.

“As we pick up bits and pieces we need to rest and rotate. It gets heavy but we’d rather be in this situation than not.”

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Saints came through a full-blooded clash with Munster, who they toppled in the group stage, by showing their mettle in a first half that finished 14-14 and then igniting their attack.

“We’re delighted. It’s the first time we’ve been in the knockout phase of Europe for quite some time,” Dowson said.

Defence

169
Tackles Made
119
20
Tackles Missed
32
89%
Tackle Completion %
79%

“We knew the levels would go up, we knew the threat Munster posed and how hard they would come out of the blocks after what happened over there. We coped with that and managed to get our game on to the pitch in the second half.”

England Under-20 full-back Hendy was the man of the hour, finishing a stunning team try before showing strength to break two tackles and score in the corner to drive the final nail into Munster’s coffin.

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“George had a good pre-season and started the season really well. Then he had a frustrating injury,” Dowson said.

“The more he plays, the better he gets and he had a huge contribution today. He’s a freak of an athlete.”

Munster captain Tadhg Beirne was among those affected by illness, but the Ireland lock refused to use it to explain the defeat.

“People get sick, that’s part of life. You just get on with it,” Beirne said.

“That happens in team environments where we’re scrumming down against each other and all that kind of stuff.

Munster
Dejected Munster players – PA

“Lads are going to pick up bugs but that’s not the reason we lost. We went out there, went toe to toe with Saints, they just got the upper hand. We’ll have to take that on the chin.

“It was a battle. You saw in the first half how tight it was and even in the second half, the game was on a knife edge for the majority of it.

“We go from having them in their 22 to all of a sudden they’re scoring. It’s moments like that we’ll look back on and be very frustrated with.

“But I can’t fault the lads’ effort. It was certainly a battle but we came out on the wrong side of it.”

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1 Comment
T
Turlough 69 days ago

Good effort by Munster against a superior team. They needed a 14-7 or even a 21-7 lead to win this. Once it was 14-14 it looked like Northhampton were always going to have too much in the 2nd half.
Pundits are making excuses about Jack Crowley, ‘he tries things, they don’t always work’ etc. etc. A poor performance by him here I thought. His mistake cost Munster to be 0-7 down after dominating the first 10 mins. It is becoming more and more obvious: his short kicking game is bad sometimes schoolboy bad. SA will have surely noticed. They can go 100% on the blitz, Crowley does not have the ammo to hurt them with chips/kicks behind. Same mistakes game after game. Hopefully young prendergast makes the necessary developments to challenge for Leinster 10 next year.

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