MUNSTER’S try-scoring winger Simon Zebo said yesterday’s semi-final defeat to Toulon was even more disappointing than exiting the competition at the same stage 12 months ago to Clermont Auvergne.
Zebo’s opportunist second half try threatened to spark a famous Munster comeback, but it was not to be for Rob Penney’s side.
Zebo said: “This was probably more (frustrating) because last year was a bit of the unknown and this year we knew what we were going into. We felt that we had a great belief in the squad throughout the week and I felt that we were capable of getting a result. It’s just a hard one to take.”
“I Just felt that we started a little slow penalty-wise. They were able to build a score a bit too early for our liking and we just gave ourselves a bit of mountain to climb. It was too little too late and costly errors let us down. A lot of ball handling in key positions on the field turned out to be key moments in the game and it just left us too much to climb.”
Munster’s stand-in captain Damien Varley felt they had not ‘painted the right picture’ for referee Wayne Barnes at scrum time in the opening quarter especially.
Hooker Varley said: “It’s a contentious area. Referees have different opinions on things than front-row players do. I think one or two times we didn’t paint the right picture for Wayne and he had no option. Throughout the game I thought we were the more dominant side, certainly from a scrummaging point of view, and the fact that we couldn’t get our scrum going in the first half, giving those penalties away, we were chasing the game too much to ever compete.
“We fixed it very quickly and Wayne (Barnes) seemed very happy with us and the tide probably turned and they were giving a lot more penalties away so I certainly feel we fixed it. We were probably more dominant towards the end of the first half and certainly in the second half, but too little too late unfortunately.”
“I think it was interpretation. We have to give him what he wants to see and he has to understand what we’re trying to do, from both teams. We had our fair share of conversations out there and we were happy with the way it ended up. Disappointed with how we started, the first few scrums, the penalties we gave away but I think we turned it around, unfortunately too late.”
Munster coach Rob Penney said it was a game he would love to replay.
Penney said: “Look, Munster, these boys are tough men. They turned up to play and I think there was probably a lot of doubt about whether we would be able to come here and compete like that. All that doubt was probably outside our dressing room. I think we had a lot of belief in the room and if we were to play it again, I’d love another shot at it.
“I don’t think the lads feel as though it was too daunting. I felt there were in with a shot right the way through. Small margins, small margins today.”