McGahan happy with win
October 16, 2010
Jonny Wilkinson and Toulon hit a red brick wall against Munster at Thomond stadium © Getty Images
Munster director of coaching Tony McGahan hailed his side's six-try 45-18 victory over Toulon as a solid performance, after the result moved the two-time Heineken Cup champions top of Pool 3.
McGahan's men were under pressure to end a two-match losing streak, and the concession of a first-minute try to Toulon hooker Jean-Philippe Genevois made for a nervous start. But Munster, with their forwards on song, bounced back with tries from stand-in captain Denis Leamy, Tony Buckley and Doug Howlett helping them to a 21-10 interval lead.
The gap remained the same until Munster broke clear around the hour mark, and Mick O'Driscoll's bonus-point score was followed by further tries from Howlett and James Coughlan.
"When tries like Toulon's first one happen, you can't do much about it but get on with it," admitted McGahan afterwards. "There were still 79 minutes to go in the game and we knew that we would come back from it. It certainly gives you a kick if you ever thought they were coming not ready to play.
"Toulon took their try very, very well. That certainly gets backs against the wall and focuses the mind. I suppose you are always vulnerable losing games, but we certainly recognised where we had been for the previous six games.
"I think we played the majority of those games away from home and we have only had two games at home in the past six. We knew that sticking together our Magners League games and last week against London Irish to get that point was really that we had to do to stay in touch. "We knew that we had been building slowly to get a performance like that. Today we were good enough to put that together."
But Munster face a stiff challenge in their next two pool games against the Ospreys in December. The Australian said: "We're happy where we are, leading the pool after two rounds, but we certainly realise that Ospreys back-to-back after their performance (against London Irish) last night is going to be tough."
Toulon showed great commitment to grab a late try from their captain Joe van Niekerk, but their director of rugby Philippe Saint-Andre conceded that Munster were "fantastic" on the day.
"Thomond Park is a tough place to come to, and it was always going to be difficult when you play 15 on 15, but we had two yellow cards - George Smith in the first half, and then Felipe Contepomi," he said. "Twice they scored two tries (during those spells). To be honest, I thought the first yellow card was harsh on George because he had done all the hard work stealing the ball.
"But you have to accept it. After that, Munster were fantastic and they showed great urgency. They played very well and played a quick game. We showed a lot of character, but we didn't use our possession as well as we could."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson