Peter O’Mahony believes Munster’s dominant victory over Leicester will only make their task in Saturday’s return leg at Welford Road even harder.
O’Mahony led by example in the 38-0 bonus-point win at Thomond Park, stealing lineout ball, carrying with intent and making mincemeat of the Leicester breakdown in a wonderful team performance to seal Munster’s seventh consecutive victory.
Yet the skipper, who on Saturday completed only his third 80-minute performance since returning from a year’s absence with a serious knee injury, is demanding further improvement, both from himself and his team, when they travel to the English East Midlands next weekend.
“Because it’s so close I think it makes the second week probably more difficult,” O’Mahony said. “Especially given the club Leicester are and the quality they have, they will be hurting after that. They’ll be waiting for us over there, and we have to have a big week. We have to recover well, and have a big training week, and probably have the biggest European week of this current team’s history so far. They’ll be hurting next week. They’ll be mad to get us over there and get stuck into us. ”
O’Mahony echoed director of rugby Rassie Erasmus in keeping a lid on the excitement and expectation their win generated.
“We’ve been here before, we’ve won six out of six Heineken Cup pool games and lost quarter-finals, so you’ve really got to live in the week. Things can happen, things can go against you, all you have to worry about is the week you’re going into and the team that you’re up against. With the group we have, if you start looking down the line, and you’ll be turned over, especially against sides like Leicester.”
Yet the Ireland flanker disputed the notion Munster were over-achieving during their current run of form.
“I think we’ve put in some good performances, I think we’ve put in some poor performances. We’ve kind of ground them out at times.
“I don’t think we’re punching above our weight. I think we can keep building, we’re certainly a long way off from where this group can be.
“We’re still feeling our way into a game-plan, into what Rassie and Jacques and Jonesy and Fla are doing. We’re a long way off where we can be. But if we can keep momentum up, keep building from week to week. There will be losses, we know that and it will be about learning from them and learning from wins as well.”
Speaking more specifically at the improvements required, O’Mahony did not spare himself in the analysis of Saturday’s display. “At times, our breakdown was light, we didn’t put enough numbers in and they caught us in the second-half when they were under a bit more pressure and they went after us in our breakdown. We were a bit lateral in our carry, particularly me, I was caught a couple of times going over.
“So there is plenty of work for us to do. I know it was nil but defensively we fell off a few tackles. You’re always looking to improve and move on. That’s what we’ve been doing and that’s how we’ve been grinding them out, learning from things and not leaving them bite us a few weeks later. There is no point in fixing them one week and have them bite you later. If we can keep doing that, we can stay in the right direction.”
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