Australians scored all 21 points at Thomond Park last night, but happily for us, Paul Warwick was responsible for 15 of the total.
I thought it was a fine Munster performance, but not everyone agreed. One prominent player with a senior local club was terse in his assessment.
Good result last night, I said to him.
Australia were shite, he replied. They weren’t interested.
I can see his point. One minute, you’re enjoying a few tinnies at a Bondi Beach barbie, working on your tan, the next you’re standing in the freezing cold and pissing rain of a Limerick November with 21,000 mad people screaming at you. The wind is stripping the skin from your face and the raindrops are like a swarm of little wet hornets attacking you. What’s worse, the local guys don’t seem to realise they’re a third-string selection or that you are one of the top three teams in the world, and they take you on as if they have some hope of winning. The toss goes their way and they decide to play into the breeze. Jesus.
It gets worse. All your box kicks go up in the air, achieving nothing. When you manage to get some kind of purchase on the ball, it floats on the savage freezing jetstream over the line and dead.
However, to say that the Australians were poor only diminishes the determined performance of all the new lads. It’s true that Munster had the services of experienced campaigners like Doug Howlett, Sam Tuitoupou and Warwick, but they also had newcomers like locks Ian Nagle, who won man-of-the-match for a towering performance and Billy Holland, while Duncan Williams put in a superb display at scrum-half.
There’s much to be optimistic about with all these young fellows coming up, and let’s not forget the established youngsters like Keith Earls, a lad who continues to mature into a player of true world class.
All in all, while the Australian challenge wasn’t what it should have been, and some people offer the excuse that it was only their B side, Munster were lacking most of their big-name internationals, and the record will show that they beat one of the top three, which is what matters. The Wallabies coach, Robbie Deans, was probably pushing it a bit when he tried to claim that the experience was valuable for his players, although if the World Cup or the Super 14 are ever played in Limerick he might have a point.