Munster scrum-half Conor Murray looks to get past Toulon winger Semi Radradra in their Champions Cup quarter-final fixture
MUNSTER captain Peter O’Mahony praised Conor Murray’s quick-thinking when nipping in to score the side’s crucial first try in their thrilling Champions Cup quarter-final win over Toulon before a capacity attendance.
When France captain Guilhem Guirado knocked the ball on at a ruck close to his own line in the 27th minute of Saturday’s game, the alert Murray pounced to ground the ball.
A prolonged deliberation between referee Nigel Owens and TMO Jonathan Mason, which took six and a half minutes in real time, finally went Munster's way, and Ian Keatley’s conversion saw the home side into a 7-6 lead, despite Toulon dominating territory and possession in the opening 25 minutes.
Peter O’Mahony said of Murray’s try: “It’s a very intelligent try.
“We were taking the mick out of him inside that it was a very handy one, but you’ve got to be switched on for something like that and that’s the kind of player he is.
“He’s very bright, very diligent. A lot of guys wouldn’t have even had the balls to go and do it because there’s the potential for you to get pinged for offside as well. You’ve got a team under the pump on their tryline and it’s the last thing you want to do.
“But it was a very bright and intelligent try.”
Munster’s centres Rory Scannell and Sam Arnold came in for special mention too as the duo held their own against Toulon’s vastly experienced pair of former All-Black Ma’a Nonu and French star Mathieu Bastareaud. While Nonu and Basteraud have 148 international caps between them, the Munster midfield pairing have just three.
“I thought the backs were superb today, I thought their defence was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from a Munster backline.
“They were up against guys who were momentum-givers, world-class athletes, world-class players who have played in a lot of big rugby games.
“It was Sammy Arnold’s first knockout game in Europe, Rory Scans, I thought our back three were quality. Last-ditch tackles against bigger men than them, and I thought they took a lot of momentum away from them.
“We spoke about it. We knew that their big momentum-givers were, obviously Duane Vermeulen at eight, but Nonu and Bastareaud give them their go-forward ball and I don’t think they did today.
“I thought they were stopped by the lads. That went a good way to putting us on the front foot.”