RTÉ rugby analyst Donal Lenihan believes that Munster had the benefit of a poor TMO decision and rode their luck at times in their Champions Cup victory over Toulon, but insisted that their win was mostly down to hard work.

Munster claimed a 20-19 victory over the French giants, holding on in a thrilling finale after Andrew Conway’s stunning individual try put them in the driving seat with five minutes to go.

 

The home side were under the cosh for most of the game but outfought their French opponents for another famous Thomond Park victory.

However it could have been so different if an early TMO decision had gone against Munster, when Chris Ashton and Simon Zebo chased a kick through and Zebo's contact took the ball out of play.

After much deliberation, referee Nigel Owens ruled that Zebo’s contact did not amount to a ‘deliberate knock-out’ and opted against awarding a penalty try.

That decision is one that Lenihan feels Munster were lucky to get away with.

"I have to say in the ground and on the day I felt it was a penalty try and a yellow card," he said on 2fm’s Game On. "I’ve obviously watched it a few times since.

"The bottom line for me is, Chris Ashton has two hands up in the air going for the ball. Simon Zebo is coming in from the side, his hand is under the ball and it changed the trajectory of the ball, so for me it was a penalty try.

"I think if the roles were reversed and that happened to a Munster player in the corner and Chris Ashton was the villain, you can imagine what the response of the crowd would have been.

"But look you get breaks like that. I think Munster and Ireland have got the rub of the green from TMO decisions over the last couple of weeks.

"They did ride their luck but from that moment forward it was built on hard work and an incredible defensive performance, both from an organisational perspective and individually."

While Conway was lauded for his match-winning try in the aftermath of the game, Lenihan also singled him out for his defensive work, particularly an early tackle on Josua Tuisova, which set the tone for Munster.

"Andrew Conway obviously gets the plaudits for the try that he scored but again early in the game in the first couple of minutes, his tackle on Tuisova in the corner was absolutely crucial," he said.

"He has such a low centre of gravity and he’s so strong in the hips that nine times out of 10 he scores those tries but Conway just hit him flush on, drove him into touch and you know, teams grow from positions like that.

"Sam Arnold had two or three really big hits like that on [Mathieu] Bastareaud, dislodged the ball on two or three occasions.  

"When you look at the stats after the game and see how far behind Munster were in terms of territory, possession, metres made, off-loads, they had to make tackles at a ratio of nearly three to one, so it was an unbelievable performance but when their opportunities arose, they took them."