Yes, Munster deserved their win for the resilience they showed to overturn ten point deficits twice in the game, for the fact they scored some excellent tries and the manner in which they mixed up their game between grunt, grind and quality.
Nevertheless, head coach Anthony Foley has promised there could be a couple of tough days training and some harsh words ahead for his charges in advance of Friday’s top of the table clash against Scarlets (2nd) in Wales.
Foley was particularly annoyed about the concession of successive penalties in the opening exchanges and relieved that Cardiff’s goal kicker Rhys Patchell missed his first three of four shots at goal.
“It was very disappointing to give up soft penalties like that; fellas know that they are going to be dragged over the coals in the next week for some of those.”
The coach was also concerned at some passive play at ruck time when Munster conceded a number of turnovers: “We aided them a lot with our inability to secure ball, particularly in the middle area of the pitch, and we got isolated so that is something we have to rectify. When you go back on the video (we will see) there are fellas bypassing rucks that they need to go into. And we just need to make sure that everybody is responsible for looking after the ball. We have got to make better decisions when in possession of the ball.”
Apart from the missed penalties, Cardiff will bemoan the fact that a member of the back room staff (water) came onto the pitch with a kicking tee after the visitors had been awarded a 70th minute penalty.
At just four points adrift, Cardiff had planned to kick for the corner and go for a try, but the arrival of the tee forced them to take a kick at goal.
Patchell converted it, but Foley knows it could have been worse, saying: “That was a turning point in the game.Maybe they forgot that if you go on to the field with a kicking tee that you are automatically indicating a shot at goal. At that stage they had mauled us and if they had gone into the corner again you don’t know what would have happened.” Indeed it was to prove crucial, because three minutes later Andrew Conway scampered over for Munster’s fifth try and man-of-the-match Ian Keatley knocked over the touchline conversion to push the lead out to eight points.
But Foley must have been well pleased with aspects of the game, not least the successful return after injury of Tomás O’Leary: “It’s great to have Tomás back and I think everybody was kind of wondering, he hasn’t played in so long, what way he would react when he got out there.
“Everybody was a bit nervous about that but then he goes and plays the way he did and just gives everyone confidence.”
And if Munster’s four successive victories have not always been totally convincing, Foley is happy to take them: “It’s good to be building up momentum, I think this time last year we had lost a couple in the league, so it was is important that we started with a solid foundation.”
Tries, Mike Sherry (2), J Coughlan, A Conway, I Keatley. Conversions, I Keatley (5).
Tries, T Knoyle, T Isaacs, R Smith. Pens, R Patchell (2). Conversions, R Patchell (3).
A Conway, S Monahan, F Saili, R Scannell, G van den Heever, I Keatley, D Williams, D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, BJ Botha, M Chisholm, D Foley, D O’Callaghan, J O’Donoghue, CJ Stander (captain).
J Cronin for Kilcoyne, T O’Leary for Williams, J Coghlan for O’Donoghue (all 50), D Johnston for Conway (58-63 and 74), R Copeland for Chisholm, D Hurley for R Scannell, N Scannell for Sherry (all 70), J Ryan for BJ Botha (76).
D Fish, G Smith, T Isaacs, G Evans, R Smith, R Pathcell, T Knoyle, S Hobbs, M Rees (captain), C Mitchell, L Reed, J Down, J Turnbull, E Jenkins, M Vosawai.
K Dacey for Rees (49), J Groves for Jenkins (51), T Davies for Hobbs (63), M Cook for Reed (65), D Lewis for Mitchell (78).
I Davies (Wales).