Johann van Graan praised some “special moments” and a 100% goal-kicking record from Joey Carbery as the Ireland fly-half got his Munster career up and running with a try-scoring performance in his first start for the province yesterday evening.
A summer signing from neighbours Leinster, Carbery, 22, was one of the stars of the show at Cork’s Musgrave Park on Friday night as Munster rebounded from 25-10 defeat in Glasgow seven days earlier by putting Ospreys to the sword in a 49-13 Guinness PRO14 victory.
Carbery scored a first-half intercept try as he collected a stray kick and danced his way through two defenders and kicked all five of his conversions before being withdrawn on 59 minutes to a standing ovation from a sell-out crowd of 8,008.
Munster scored seven tries on the night, the first of which was a penalty try with an automatic two points for a conversion. Carbery scored the second and as well as his own he kicked conversions for scores from James Cronin and Rhys Marshall as the home side racked up the try-bonus point before half-time before converting second-half tries for Marshall again and Arno Botha. Darren Sweetnam’s five-pointer came after Carbery’s departure and was converted by Ian Keatley.
There was no disputing Carbery’s impact on the game and head coach van Graan praised his new number 10 and the support he received from his team-mates.
“I think if you play fly-half behind a pack of forwards that played like that tonight then it makes it a lot easier,” van Graan said.
“I think we got a lot of go forward from our maul and our scrum. I thought (scrum-half) Duncan (Williams), I think it was his 155th game tonight, I thought he had some good service to him.
Munster were impressive as a collective, albeit against an understrength Ospreys side, with captain Peter O’Mahony, fellow Ireland international Andrew Conway and South African flanker Chris Cloete all adding intensity to the province on their seasonal debuts while Carbery’s fellow new signing Tadhg Beirne was also a star performer on his first start since a summer move from Scarlets.
“It just shows that when you have your international players back it makes a big difference,” van Graan said. “Potentially, there were a few world-class players in the field tonight. I think we knew we would bring seasoned internationals but also guys who have the potential to be future stars onto the field, I think you’re going to get what you got tonight.
“Some special moments out there. The game actually went by pretty fast, so I’ll have to have a look at a few things more. Very happy with the reaction of the forwards and happy with the reaction of some of the individuals.”
The Munster boss praised the way his squad turned things around from the round-two loss at Glasgow, when a sloppy and sluggish start left them 22-0 down by half-time at Scotstoun, eventually leading to 25-10 defeat.
“The reaction of the players at half-time last week was impressive the way we came out in the second half last week and we didn’t convert those opportunities and I thought tonight we did.
“The way we defended in the first five minutes, we were against the wind again tonight, I thought our breakdown performance was exceptional tonight, not only on our ball but also on defensive breakdown, we chose a few more poaches and there were a lot of poaches available tonight.
“Pretty happy with the reaction and like I said, any time you score four tries in the first half, it sets you up for a good win.”