Champions Cup: Graham Rowntree ‘gutted’ by Munster’s narrow Toulouse defeat but looks to embrace Sharks tie in the last-16

Munster's Graham Rowntree before the Heineken Champions Cup Credit: Alamy
Munster's Graham Rowntree before the Heineken Champions Cup Credit: Alamy

Munster head coach Graham Rowntree claimed he was “gutted” to have not found a way to beat Toulouse in their final pool game of the Champions Cup.

Rowntree’s men fell agonisingly short, losing 20-16 to the European powerhouse, which set up an away last-16 tie against the Sharks in Durban.

Munster have experience playing against South African teams in the United Rugby Championship, but the head coach also understands how difficult it is to win in the southern hemisphere.

Massive knockout matchup

The 51-year-old is looking to embrace the clash and believes that claiming the Champions Cup title is all about winning big match-ups.

“If you’re going to win this competition, you’ve got to go places and win games like this,” Rowntree said.

“What we are proving is that we’ve got form on the road, so I’m already looking forward to it. It’s a challenge, but we like a challenge at this club.

“We’re going to be seeing a lot of them (the Sharks). And to me, what makes a class team is what you do on the road.

“We’ve had a couple of good moments there recently, in Edinburgh and Ulster. I’m gutted about today in Toulouse because it would have been a nice feather in the cap.”

Jaminet the difference

Munster played very well against Toulouse and could have claimed the victory if Joey Carbery had slotted the conversions for their tries. However, ultimately it was the 15 points kicked by Melvyn Jaminet that proved the difference between them.

“Not many teams come here and do what we did, recover from an early setback and find a way to stay in the game. We’ll have a look at some things we can do better,” added Rowntree.

“We’re tough to beat – that’s the bedrock of what I want us to be in terms of our DNA. I’m really pleased with how we’re going.”

Toulouse skills coach Jerome Kaino was delighted to get over the line against their rivals and looked forward to the challenge the Bulls will pose in the last-16.

“The history of the games between these two teams shows there have never been any blow-outs. So, to get the win against a very good Munster side was pretty pleasing,” said Kaino.

“We started well but weren’t able to capitalise on our momentum. We’re just happy to have secured a home tie against the Bulls and it will be a different brand of rugby to adapt to against them.”

READ MORE: Champions Cup: Toulouse edge impressive Munster as both teams progress to knockout stage

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