Munster 26-10 Castres, Heineken Cup
McGahan pleased with progress
January 14, 2012
Munster's Peter O'Mahony is shackled by Castres defenders © Getty Images
Munster head coach Tony McGahan believes the two-time Heineken Cup winners can take plenty of positives after making it through to the quarter-finals of the competition for a 13th time.
Munster made it five wins on the bounce in Pool 1 by beating Castres 26-10 in unconvincing fashion at Thomond Park. The home side bagged two tries from Johne Murphy and Wian du Preez in a workmanlike display against their French visitors.
Munster, who return to the quarter-finals having missed out last season, complete their programme of pool games against the rejuvenated Northampton at stadium:mk next Saturday and victory there would secure a precious home quarter-final.
However, McGahan believes Northampton will provide a huge challenge following Saints' last-gasp defeat to his side at Thomond Park in November when Ronan O'Gara landed a match-winning drop goal deep in injury time.
McGahan said: "We are qualified at this stage. There was a high expectation coming into this game against Castres from outside the squad with regard to getting a bonus point, but we never stated that.
"We were predicted to maybe come last in our pool at the outset. We are five games in, undefeated and we are in the quarter-final stage. There needs to be some positives drawn on where we have come from, certainly with the injuries we have experienced this year. There are a lot of positives within the group.
"The group is working desperately hard and I'm sure the fans and everyone can appreciate that. We need to get through the final part of it. If you talk to the older players, we usually go into round six looking for a bonus point to survive and go forward. I think if you look at it in the context of the campaign, we would like to be better, but we will continue to work hard to do that.
"I think Northampton will be looking for revenge (on Saturday). They made their thoughts well known when they left here (Thomond Park) and it certainly stayed with them for the rest of the week against the Scarlets.
"I think the way they have attacked the Aviva Premiership and the Heineken Cup games, we are certainly in for a great battle next weekend."
Australian-born McGahan agreed that Munster need to be more clinical in the scoring zone. He said: "We understand the opportunities which were created. What was poor was the handling on the end of things more than the positions we got ourselves in.
"I thought we worked extremely hard to put ourselves in good positions, but the final pass and ruck detracted from the end product we were looking for. There is no hiding from it, we certainly need to improve in that area."
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