Munster are already fighting for their Heineken Cup lives after a shock 29-23 defeat to Edinburgh in their opening game at Murrayfield on Saturday.
The former champions went into the match on the back of a big win over Leinster and were fancied to beat a Scottish side that had lost five of their six Rabo12 league games.
Craig Laidlaw’s boot proved the difference on the day, however, as Munster fell to a shock defeat in a game that saw star winger Simon Zebo hobble off with an ankle injury.
And coach Rob Penney wasn’t slow to question his team’s approach to the game as he analyzed the defeat.
Penney said, “Edinburgh are a good side and deserved their win. We are ruing some poor mental preparation because you don’t change from one week to the next like that physically in any way. Our mental application was nowhere near what it needed to be.
“I can’t take anything away from Edinburgh at all. They nullified our threat, defended well and took their opportunities.
“Laidlaw kicked beautifully and the proof is in the pudding. If you leave after 80 minutes and you are behind on the scoreboard then you don’t deserve to win.
“We weren’t good at all but that’s not taking anything away from Edinburgh. We were not allowed to be good.”
Zebo is a doubt for Saturday’s Heineken Cup clash with Gloucester while Paddy Butler is definitely out with a broken thumb sustained in the Edinburgh game.
Leinster Off to Good Start
LEINSTER defeated the Ospreys 19-9 in Wales on Saturday night to make the perfect start to their Heineken Cup campaign, but captain Jamie Heaslip is demanding more from his players.
He said, “We’re happy with the win but we’ve got a lot to work on for next week. We’re a week by week team, and we don’t look too far ahead, but it would be nice to get out of our Pool.”
Man of the match Sean O’Brien scored the game’s only try and claimed afterwards that Leinster are finally settling down after the arrival of Matt O’Connor as coach in the summer.
O’Brien said, “With a new coaching staff and new players it takes a bit of time to gel, especially as we have some new systems. It has taken five or six games to get to where we are now.
“Everyone gets very excited at Heineken Cup time. The Heineken Cup is something we want to win every year and after last year we are a little bit sore about certain things and we want to put that right.
“We said trust the systems tonight. We stuck to our task and it worked for us.”
Jackson Stars for Ulster
IRELAND out-half Paddy Jackson kicked 17 points as Ulster got their Heineken Cup campaign off to a winning start with a 22-16 win at home to Leicester on Friday night.
Coach Mark Anscombe was delighted with the youngster and said, “We know what Paddy is capable of and as a team we have all the confidence in the world in the guy, he is only human and you don’t put A-grade performances in week in week out.
“He started the season a little slow but he is hitting his straps at the right time, he is 22 and he is growing into a very good fly half.”
In other rugby news, Brian O’Driscoll is still an injury doubt for Leinster’s Heineken Cup clash with Castres at the RDS this Saturday as he battles the calf injury that kept him out of Saturday’s win over the Ospreys.
Mike Ross is also a doubt for the Castres game.
New arrival Lote Tuqiri will definitely miss the game with a hamstring injury. South African international Zane Kirchner and Shane Jennings are available for selection.
Connacht’s poor form of late continued with a 23-17 defeat to Saracens in the Heineken Cup opener at the Sportsgrounds on Friday night.
Young Ulster scrum-half Paul Marshall has signed a new three year deal with the province.
Sports Shorts - Boxer McCarthy Wins
BOXING: Tommy McCarthy made a winning start to Ireland’s world championship bid in Kazakhstan with a unanimous preliminary round win against Bulgaria’s Nikolay Mutavski in the heavyweight division on Monday . . .
GOLF: Darren Clarke finished runner up to South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel by just one shot at the Nanshan China Open on Sunday . . .
CRICKET: Ed Joyce has been named as Ireland’s International Men’s Player of the Year.
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