Penney seeks more cohesion

Munster head coach Rob Penney will expect his squad take a step further along the road to readiness for the season ahead when they face Bristol at Musgrave Park tonight (7pm).

The former Canterbury chief reviewed last weekend’s opening pre-season friendly defeat at La Rochelle and deemed the available players to be 60% of where he wants them to be in adopting his expansive philosophy to how the game should be played.

Munster have two more pre-season friendlies, both in Cork with Premiership side London Irish following the English championship outfit Bristol into Musgrave Park a week today ahead of the first competitive fixture of the season on September 1 at Edinburgh in the RaboDirect Pro12. By then, Penney hopes for a lot more cohesion.

“We achieved some things that we set out to do and we didn’t in others,” the Munster boss said. “That would be an indication of where this group is at.

“We have got a lot of work to do, but they are quick learners and hard workers and given another few weeks hopefully by London Irish we’ll be running a lot more smoothly than we were last weekend.”

Penney accepted there were mitigating circumstances behind the defeat to La Rochelle, not least that the French side were further along in their pre-season conditioning, as Bristol will be in their third outing of the summer. Optimum fitness will be key to the success of the new regime’s game plan. as well as the “Obviously if you’re looking to use the extremities a bit more then people tend to cover ground a bit more and Bryce [Cavanagh] and his strength and conditioning team have done a really good job getting them into shape.”

MUNSTER: D Hurley; D Howlett, C Laulala, J Downey, L O’Dea; I Keatley, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, D Varley, S Archer; B Holland, D Foley; T O’Donnell, P Butler, S Dougall.

Replacements: W du Preez, M Horan, BJ Botha, S Henry, D Casey, B Hayes, P Donnellan, Dave O’Callaghan, B O’Mahony, P Stringer, S Deasy, D Barnes, J Murphy, S Scanlon.

BRISTOL: J Goodridge; R Edwards, B Rennie, L Eves, G Watkins; A Jarvis, J Grindal; K Traynor, R Johnston, W Thompson; M Sambucetti, G Townson; I Grieve (c), R Pennycook, M Eadie.

Replacements: R Lawrence, W Davis, B Douglas, R Winters, M Mama, J Merriman, T Slater, T Roberts, J Gadd, D McIlwaine.

Referee: Dudley Phillips (IRFU).

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