Head coach Anthony Foley said he was happy with Munster’s bonus-point 31-7 win over Zebre but said the province would need to examine why they failed to push on from an impressive first-half performance after the interval.
Felix Jones, CJ Stander and Conor Murray all touched down for first-half tries, and Simon Zebo secured the bonus point in the 42nd minute, but Munster failed to score again after Ian Keatley’s conversion of Zebo’s try.
Speaking to RTÉ sport after the game, Foley indicated that he was happy with Munster’s tempo in the first 40, in which he felt they had executed their gameplan, but rued the fact that they did not carry this approach into the second half.
“We wanted to build the game on pace and momentum, and we achieved that, and we were fortunate enough to get a couple of scores and maintain momentum on the game. Unfortunately we didn’t do that in the second half, and it became a dour affair, to be honest with you.”
Foley said he was “happy with the result, happy with the five points, getting the bonus point against the run of play in the second half. I thought we had done enough in the first half to warrant the result.
"It became a dour affair, to be honest with you” - Anthony Foley on the second half
“We’ve come away relatively unscathed in terms of injuries, and, you know, it’s good to get back on winning ways.”
Foley said they would need to examine why they had failed to score for so long in the second half.
“Something that we need to look into is the second half,” he said. “But in fairness to Zebre, they came out in the second half, and for four to five minutes there we didn’t touch the ball.”
Conor Murray had gotten a “bang on the neck” in the act of scoring Munster’s first try, Foley said, but pointed out that he had come back on, having been replaced temporarily by Duncan Williams, and that “he’s okay”.
The return from injury of James Cronin and Keith Earls, the latter making his first appearance of the season, were a welcome sight for Munster fans, and identified as a positive by Foley.
“The two boys have been training hard in the background, and it’s a great opportunity for them to put their hats in the ring, particularly with next week in mind” he said. “It was great for them to get a good hit out there, both of them to get over 20 minutes in the second half.
“It was good to see Earlsy flying into a few tackles out there, and Jamesy being his robust self out there. It gives the whole squad a massive lift to have massive players come back, of that calibre.”
After a disappointing loss to Connacht on New Year’s Day, Foley was keen for Munster to regain momentum ahead of next weekend’s do-or-die Champions Cup clash with Saracens.
“We felt that we needed a performance today, and we saw that, in bits and pieces.”