Munster captain Peter O’Mahony has demanded his players redeem themselves following Champions Cup elimination with a strong finish to the season.
The two-time Heineken Cup winners crashed out of Europe on Saturday with a 33-10 defeat at Saracens, the first time in their storied history they have lost three pool games in succession and only the second time in 17 years they have failed to reach the knockout stages.
It has made progress to the knockout stages an impossibility with a one round still to go, the spoils in Pool 1 to be decided in France, when Saracens visit Clermont, rather than Limerick on Sunday as Munster entertain another eliminated side, Sale Sharks.
Yet O’Mahony wants the game to provide a springboard for the rest of the Guinness Pro12 campaign, with his side currently third in the league with nine games remaining in the regular schedule, as well as taking the chance to restore some faith after a desperately disappointing performance in London at the weekend.
“We’ve got to bottle it up now and we’ve got to put in a performance next week,” O’Mahony said. “We’ve let our fans down who travelled, we’ve let our fans at home down, we’ve let our families down, we let ourselves down.
“We’ve got to have a big performance next week and the next few weeks in the Guinness Pro12. They’re non-negotiable, those performances.”
O’Mahony refused to offer any excuses for a sloppy Munster effort in north London as Saracens ran in three tries to one and kept the visitors on the back foot for long periods. “You’re not going to compete with a team like Saracens if you’re going to carry on like that. Knock-ons, missed calls, inaccuracies. You’re not going to compete.
“We’d a good week’s training, training went well on Thursday and guys knew what they were at, but it just didn’t come through. There was no stage when we got a bit of momentum and built pressure, I don’t know if we’ve any excuses; I thought Saracens were very good.”
O’Mahony described the feeling of being stuck in their own half for long periods, unable to get a foothold, let alone any go-forward ball, against a powerful Saracens side able to turn the screw throughout: “It’s hugely frustrating, but every time we ended up there, it was a result of our own mistakes. Every time we got up the field, we’d get a lineout or a scrum and we’d be penalised, have an inaccurate lineout, a turnover in midfield, a missed ruck... you’re just not going to compete.
“When we come away from home, especially against the English and French teams, we’d always pride ourselves on the fact that we’ll dig in for a performance, we find it from somewhere; we go to places where you don’t want to go. I don’t think we did that today.
“It’s not that we didn’t want it, not that the boys didn’t try hard, but we weren’t accurate enough.”
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