Munster head coach Rob Penney said securing a home Heineken Cup quarter-final was "massive" for his team after they coasted to a 38-6 bonus-point win over Edinburgh at Thomond Park.
Having led 12-6 at the break, Penney's charges went on to dominate the second half with tries from Conor Murray, captain Peter O'Mahony — allied to closing scores from Simon Zebo and Felix Jones — ensuring they will host a last-eight date in Limerick in early April. Penney said he was pleased for Munster's supporters that their 15th quarter-final appearance in 16 seasons would be at at Thomond Park.
It was only confirmed later that it would be against four-time champions Toulouse.
“One of the things we spoke about was our magnificent supporters who follow us around Europe and everywhere we go,” said the New Zealander. “For the lads, it was a small reward for them to be able to come and watch us here at home, for the season ticket holders to be able to come and watch them play at Thomond Park.
“As a cauldron it is a very difficult place for any team to come and play. To have that opportunity to play one more European Cup game on our home ground is great — wonderful reward for the lads’ efforts.”
Penney was admittedly pleased with the manner in which his side refused to get distracted by the fact they knew a bonus-point victory was what was required before today’s round six clash with the Scots.
“We were really focused on getting the job done in a really professional way, which was a great sign. You shouldn’t underestimate Edinburgh for a start. But I was really excited about the potential for us to get Edinburgh on a firm track and the proof is in the pudding.
“Knowing what was needed beforehand could have been a distraction. It is a great credit to the lads that they just went about their task and focused on being in one moment at a time and just doing the job.
“It is very easy to get anxious if the points are not coming when you know a bonus-point win is what is required to get a special outcome. It was nice for us to know as a group. The one pleasing thing is that we did not get distracted by it.”
Meanwhile, Edinburgh boss Alan Solomons said the sin-binning of their flanker Cornell du Preez on the stroke of half-time was a major moment in the game. "That was a big decision. That had a major influence at that particular point," insisted Solomons, whose side were hoping to win through to the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals. "
Munster got a try (from Conor Murray) coming out of half-time which put them up 19-6. Then the game starts to get beyond you and later on again we had another yellow card (for Geoff Cross) which made it very, very difficult.
“Munster are a good team and when you make mistakes and you turn over ball or are down to 14 men, they are going to take advantage.
“Those 10 minutes were a key factor and once those 10 minutes were gone, the game was pretty much gone as well.”