Munster Rugby's Damian de Allende celebrates with teammates Stephen Archer and Thomas Ahern after scoring their second try against Exeter Chiefs at Thomond Park on Saturday
MUNSTER Rugby head coach Johann van Graan was fulsome in his praise of the part the province's supporters played in their thrilling 34-23 aggregate Heineken Champions Cup last 16 victory achieved over Exeter Chiefs at Thomond Park on Saturday.
An official attendance of 21,133 turned out to watch Munster overturn their five point first leg deficit in securing a hard fought 26-10 win over the Premiership side in Limerick.
Out-half Joey Carbery scored 21 points of Munster's tally, including a first half try, as Van Graan's charges secured their passage into a 19th Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final.
Munster's fit-again captain Peter O'Mahony was awarded the Man of the Match accolade, but it wasn't until a 74th minute try from South African centre Damian de Allande that Munster could be sure of progressing to a last eight meeting with either Ulster or Toulouse.
Afterwards van Graan, who leaves Munster this summer for Bath, said: "Two very proud clubs going at each other, a very unique experience over two legs, but the 16th man pulled us through today.
"We as a group said that to claw back the five-point difference would be massive, and the fact that we were unbeaten in the pool stage meant we were always going to finish here at Thomond Park. We banked on the crowd and they were phenomenal today."
Asked about Carbery's display in the pivotal play-maker role, coach Van Graan said: "Joey is a special player, and I said to him early in the week, that when I met him a few years ago I had so much belief in him. He's such a special player, and I said to him 'today is the day to lead us through'.
"He certainly responded, not only with his kicking, but the try he scored. He's a phenomenal man, he's been through a lot, but he's led us to victory from a 10 perspective.
"On that note, all 23 players gave it their all, I know Ben Healy didn't get on the pitch, but in terms of being all-in, we were 23 guys."
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