O’Mahony injury the only cause for Munster concern
Munster skipper replaced early in second half of emphatic Champions Cup win at Gloucester
Munster’s Peter O’Mahony after the game. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
The only blemish on Munster’s horizon after their emphatic 41-15 win in Gloucester was the injury which their captain Peter O’Mahony sustained early in the second half. Head coach Johann van Graan confirmed O’Mahony popped his rib, which casts a serious doubt over the flanker’s ability to lead out Munster in their Pool 2 Heineken Champions Cup finale against Exeter at Thomond Park next Saturday evening.
“He’s in a bit of pain,” said van Graan. “It looks like a rib. We’ll obviously have to take our time with it and re-assess on Monday. Sometimes it heals quickly and other times not, so I’ve got no update but it’s definitely a popped rib.”
Otherwise, van Graan was content.
“We’re very happy with the win and the bonus point. We knew this was going to be a massive game and they started with real intent, that first penalty they went to the corner.
“We knew it was going to be a tough one and we kept them out. Two other moments in the game for me - the try just before half time that we scored. I thought our patience was so good, something we’ve worked on over the last three weeks.
“The try they scored after half-time was 35 phases and even though they scored the try that actually made us stronger in terms of our belief. We’ll take this bonus point win away from home. It’s only Friday night now, which means two extra rest days and we start again on Monday.”
As for the defensive effort in general, van Graan said: “I thought we defended well the last two weeks and we knew with Danny (Cipriani) playing, that’s going to be an extra threat, and one of the players I respect so much, Billy Twelvetrees, they’ve got two receivers and we needed to work hard.
“That one scoring opportunity, I thought in the first half, which didn’t go to hand, but other than that I thought we shut them down so well and our forwards’ work off the ball was exceptional tonight.
“Then the collisions, we knew we were challenged by a team who wanted to win on their home ground and I thought we dominated the collisions tonight.”
Joey Carbery skated in for two tries to augment his seven from seven off the ‘t’ for a 26 point haul in also cruising away with the Man of the Match award.
But when asked about the performance of his 23-year-old, van Graan insisted: “Firstly, about the team if I can start wider. You’ve got to give credit to the management and the coaching staff after that performance, all credit to them.
“Even the guys who played against Leinster tonight, this whole week was about the squad and about this performance. Everyone put their heart and soul into this one because we knew we needed to get through this one to keep us alive for next week.
“Then the 23 guys that played their part on the field, I thought all 23 guys did that. I think Joey (Carbery) capped it off with a special performance and if I’m not mistaken, he didn’t miss a goal-kick again, that’s three weeks in a row. That’s what wins you games.
“I thought he and Conor really played well together tonight and I thought they combined well with Scans and Chris Farrell. I thought Mikey at the back was really good and Andrew and Earlsy pounced on the opportunities that came their way. A really good team performance.
“Obviously, we weren’t at our best for Castres away and we gave all the guys a week off, started to regenerate in all facets of play.
“If you’re a 10, you’re going to take some criticism but we knew from day one that he’s here to learn and here to be part of a team. I thought he’d played really well over the last three weeks and to me, his decision making - when to run, when to pass, when to kick, when to show - I thought that was excellent tonight. One or two of the plays came off and the one for Andrew’s try that went to the blind, again the decision that he made was so good.”
Carbery himself said: “I’m obviously delighted but what makes me more happy is the scoreboard. We worked hard during the week and we put a few things into place. We’re just so happy that we could come out and do it tonight. Huge credit to the coaches and the team in how we prepared for this.
“It’s still not there though. We have one more big week. We have to work hard and hopefully next week goes well and then we are in a good position. Work is not done yet.”
Carbery admitted he could not have performed as he did were it not for those in front of him.
“Everything we do comes from the pack. If they don’t give us the platform then we have nothing to work from. I think it was a huge team performance tonight and we are stoked and want one more big week.”
The backs scored the five tries but CJ Stander, who assumed the captaincy after O’Mahony departed and made 17 carries and 18 tackles in another monstrous outing, echoed Carbery when saying good-naturedly: “We make it easy for them, we do all the hard work and they get all of the glory, that’s why they are here.
“But everyone played well today. We know we let ourselves down a few weeks ago. We need to work hard to go into the next game and make sure we put ourselves on top to go through to the quarters.”
As for the contribution from the half-backs, Stander said: “They score all of the points. They are class, they work hard during the week, they take charge of what we do as a forward pack and as a team. It’s good to see that they get their time on the ball and they get the points.”