Van Graan refuses to blame referee after incident-packed loss to Leinster

Van Graan refuses to blame referee after incident-packed loss to Leinster

By Brendan O'Brien

Johann van Graan has a career in diplomacy if the coaching thing doesn't work out.

Less than an hour after his Munster side had lost 30-22 to Leinster at the Aviva Stadium and the Munster boss was being asked his views on a couple of controversial incidents that served to swing this Guinness PRO14 contest the home team's way.

Keith Earls was central to both of them.

The first was a penalty try for Leinster, awarded after the Ireland wing had tackled James Lowe on the cusp of the Munster line and just before the Kiwi took a pass. Van Graan had no beef with that one afterwards.

The second incident? That was the really contentious one.

Sam Arnold set the scene in motion, his crunching tackle dislodging the ball from where it was cradled by Robbie Henshaw in the Munster 22. It bobbled loose, Earls picked it up and motored three-quarters of the length of the pitch to touch down.

The whistle had already sounded by then, the play called back for what may have been a deliberate knock-on by Arnold or an offside against Earls who appeared to be standing just the wrong side of the play Neither camp seemed sure as to the reasoning afterwards.

They were members of a club numbering 50,120 in that regard. And countless more watching on TV.

The second one, it was the 42nd-minute, it was a 14-point swing,” said van Graan. “We were called back from a certain try. It was called late. I guess all I can say is you want consistency.

There was no elaboration on that and a second query on the second incident got no further.

“You've gotta first give credit to the opposition,” he replied. “We got beaten by the better team today. Tonight was a brilliant occasion for Irish rugby, two teams went at each other for 80 minutes and unfortunately certain calls went against our team.

“That being said, we conceded a penalty which took the game to eight points, with four or five minutes to go, which made it impossible for us to get back into the game.”

The penalty in question was a frustratingly lazy decision by Stephen Archer, who had been excellent up that, to purposely block an onrushing Fergus McFadden as the Leinster man chased a dropping kick into the Munster 22.

Peter O'Mahony, like his coach, hid his annoyance well when asked about that one.

“These things happen. In the white-hot of the game these are mistakes that I won't be commenting on or giving out about because I have been on the wrong end of them plenty of times myself. They are decisions you make in games. That happens.”

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