MUNSTER’S nerveless match winner Ronan O’Gara admitted that kicking last gasp winning drop goals in high pressure situations was exactly the reason why he plays professional rugby.
The Heineken Cup’s record all-time points scorer landed an 83rd minute drop goal from 40 metres to help Munster secure a dramatic 23-21 victory over a dejected Northampton Saints side at Thomond Park on Saturday night.
A beaming O’Gara said: “I got a great kick out of it, obviously! That is why you play the game. I can’t say we knew exactly what we were doing. We were running up our own backsides for a fair amount of it. But I think we kept our composure.
“I had a look once or twice but didn’t fancy it. You just got to make sure that you put yourself in the best possible place to give yourself a decent chance of striking it and that is what we did. It is easy with a chalkboard, but live it is a little bit different!
“Earlier their winger had dropped the ball maybe seven metres from our line. That would have given them a nine-point lead, maybe game over. These are small margins.
“At other times we could have kicked on. They are an exceptional team, but we can improve from that.”
Munster will look to build on their opening day win they travel to Toulouse to face Castres at the Stade Ernest Wallon on Saturday next (3.40pm Irish time).
Out-half O’Gara also hailed veteran Munster prop John Hayes who became the first player to make 100 appearances in the Heineken Cup when introduced as a second half replacement against Northampton.
O’Gara added: “I think it is most deserving that the most appropriate man gets to 100 caps in the Heineken Cup first. Fair play to John. This man is a legend.”
A modest John Hayes said he was delighted to reach such a milestone.
Thirty eight year-old Hayes said: “I am delighted to reach 100 caps in the Heineken Cup. There are a few of us here who have been around for a few years. We have played a lot of games. It is a great milestone and I’m delighted to reach it tonight.
“It was a full-on Heineken Cup game the kind we have seen so many of over the years. Both teams were going at it. I was delighted to get involved in it.”