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The 'unbelievable' Munster verdict about decisive Jack Crowley kick

By Liam Heagney
Jack Crowley celebrates (Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

First-year head coach Graham Rowntree has paid great tribute to the youthful Jack Crowley following his dramatic match-winning drop goal which squeezed Munster past Leinster and into a URC final versus the Stormers in Cape Town on May 27.


Munster, who hadn’t beaten Leinster in the league in Dublin since 2014, had stayed in the semi-final fight to trail by only 13-15 with an epic contest coming down the finishing straight at Aviva Stadium. They then struck for the memorable win, the 23-year-old Crowley landing a 78th-minute drop goal to put his side into a 16-15 lead that they gleefully held on to.

“That is an unbelievable skill what he did there under pressure, but he practices that most days. That is the diligence of the kid, he is practicing after training,” enthused Rowntree, who just weeks ago faced the disastrous prospect of Munster not finishing high enough on the URC table to qualify for next season’s Heineken Champions Cup.

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Salvation came by way of a dogged effort on their two-match South African tour, Munster winning at the Stormers and then drawing with the Sharks to lever themselves into a fifth-place finish. They have since defeated Glasgow and Leinster away in the knockout stages of the URC and will now battle the defending champion Stormers on the road to try and win the league for the first time since 2011.

Rowntree hailed the building blocks of recent weeks, adding that improvements in training over the winter were crucial to the better levels of fitness that enabled them to fight off immense Leinster pressure.

“We tend to stick in the game and our fitness is good,” said Rowntree, insisting he never lost hope after his team fell behind to a 63rd-minute Joe McCarthy try. “Just before the end of the third quarter we had missed a golden opportunity and we have got to be better near the opposition try line, but we never gave up hope.

“We came through some fires the last few weeks and when we go to Cape Town it will be our sixth away game on the bounce. That is where we are finding out about people, tough, battle-hardened so it was never hopeless, this team don’t go away.


“It [the performance] was not perfect. We have got to be more clinical, we spoke about it at half-time, more clinical near the opposition try line. So no, we weren’t perfect but delighted with the fight and the spirit.

“We are into a final. I said to the group during the week, 25 days ago we were paranoid about European qualification, now we are in a semi, now we are in a final and we are still growing. Pete (O’Mahony) spoke really well in the dressing room about this not being our final, so we go down to Cape Town with belief.

“I’m seen tangible improvements in our game. I saw that when results weren’t going our way back in the autumn, I had full belief in what I had seen, even in training. But we are here to win, aren’t we, and to go get this far and get to a final we will be gunning for it.”

About those changes in training, the ex-Leicester and England prop added: “How you train every day and what we do at training every day, we changed that a lot, you have got to train at intensity, test your skills under pressure and then on top of that we have the ability to chop and change and rest.


“We had a core group who have battled away from home for five weeks and that has given them true belief. Our fitness has been a huge improvement this year.”


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