Biarritz 18 – Munster 7

All-French final for Heineken Cup

Munster were beaten today by a team with heart and determination but ultimately the game was decided by the number of mistakes.

There was only one penalty in the entire first half, which gave Biarritz 3 points against 7 for Earls’s try, but two minutes into the second half, Flannery was at his old tricks, whipping the legs from under a Biarritz player, and Yachvili made it 6-7.  That was it until the last 15 minutes when Munster errors gave Biarritz four kicking chances and Yachvili slotted all of them, making the final score 18-7.

They murdered our scrum, and in the lineout they lived on the edge of the law, just as Munster would do if they got away with it.  Tony Buckley’s replacement for John Hayes if anything made matters worse, and Stringer came on for O’Leary too late to make any difference, though we needed his speed and his punch.  We missed Paul O Connell badly, both in the scrum and the lineout, but also in his leadership, and as feared, the absence of Howlett and Dowling made us vulnerable in the corners as well as forcing Mafi out to the wing where he isn’t comfortable.  The whole three-quarter line was out of shape from the start, but you could always say that’s because Munster lack the strength in depth to cope with injuries.  De Villiers, I’m afraid, failed to deliver the killer punch he was recruited for, and spent most of the game invisible.

On the other hand, look at Harinordoquy, who played the entire game with a protective mask around his face, and who seemed to play the second half with a broken rib.  We’d take him any time if he’d sign up.  What a player.   We’d also take Yachvili, who fired everything on target.

I think that might be it for a while.  This Munster squad is getting old and I can’t see Hayes or  Quinlan now winning another Heineken Cup.  Apart from them, David Wallace is 33 and so is ROG, while Marcus Horan is 32 and Jerry Flannery is 31.  I know they’re not ready for the bath chairs and the Complan yet, but this team is ageing and looks elderly compared to the top European sides.

It’s probably time for team-building now, and Munster’s management will regret the loss of revenue they might have expected from a Cup Final appearance.  Without that, they’ll find it harder to rebuild a winning squad.  I”m not saying the glory days are over, but we’ll need to bring on the young guys, as well as finding replacements for the likes of Howlett, who has been a wonderful servant, and de Villiers, who was more disappointing.

8 thoughts on “Biarritz 18 – Munster 7

  1. Sorry, I don’t know anything about rugby so I can’t comment. I just came here because the Gerry Ryan thread is closed.


  2. Darwin if you understood you own ism, you wouldn’t have posted at all.

    Agree Bock, aging team, time for new dods and tricks.

  3. Stephen Archer a prop with Munster Academy looks a bit of a prospect, tighthead too, played some Magniers League this season, expect to see more of him next year. I think he is early twenties. It is time to unleash some of the young lads, if there are one or two more lurking with the talent that was found in Earles we and indeed Ireland would be made up. Coaching could make up for waht was going on in the front five. When Biarritz scrummed down against us it was like watching a dance step. “Four steps to the left” together, then drive. This changed the point of force in the Munster scrum and no amount of strength could withstand it, I will leave the science to you Bock. There must be a coaching answer, I don’t know it. Our flankers were keeping a look out like prairie dogs, surely when we were under pressure they should have been driving the front five in a proper V. Maybe No. 8 will have some views as his handle indicates some experience in this area.

  4. Red Mist…. agree totally with the point you make about the flankers. A case of coaching taken to extremes. Ireland are now facing a nasty summer tour and a nightmare World Cup. Just like the last one !

  5. One of the wing forwards job is to kep the prop in place. He needs to strike a balance between doing this and keeping the opposition at bay, very hard to do both. The tighthead prop is the most important player in the scrum and indeed team. If he is under pressure then you either get no ball or poor quality ball. Munster got largely no ball and were at times starved of posession. Biarritz were like Munster of old, great pack and no back line.

  6. Watch the game again Bock, JDV was our best player and produced numberous turnovers and tackled his heart out, scrum actually improved when Buckley came on amazingly enough. Problem is our pack was beaten up all over the place and McGahan doesn’t seem up top the job. The forwards coach Mr Fisher is a joke and Axel should be promoted to forwards coach considering the job he has done with the A team.

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