Coming away from Thomond Park empty handed was a bitter pill to swallow, admits John Mulvihill, after a monumental effort from his side in Limerick on Monday.
Cardiff Blues touched down for three tries, courtesy of Willis Halaholo, Rey Lee-Lo and Aled Summerhill. But it was not enough to claim points and strengthen their position in Conference B, after the hosts crossed five times to secure a 38-27 win.
The head coach applauded his side’s effort and clinical attacking game on the road, as Monday Night Rugby made its Guinness PRO14 debut, but insists they must improve their discipline and game management ahead of next week’s home clash against Ulster.
“I think we deserved better than heading back to Cardiff with nothing. Our physicality and effort was excellent on the road throughout the game,” said Mulvihill.
“Munster are a difficult team to play against when you only have 18 per cent territory in the first half. We gave away six penalties within 30 meters of our try line.
“We invited them into our end and if we’re like that against Ulster again next week, we’ll be in for another tough night.
“We put ourselves under a bit of pressure at times, but to be 17-13 at half time and 31-27 with 12 minutes to go shows how much effort was there.
“Every time we crossed half-way we came away with points, so our conversion rate with ball in-hand at their end of the pitch would’ve been 100 per cent.
“The biggest issue was not being able to go back-to-back on that. We made a few errors off kick off and put ourselves under pressure again. We didn’t put pressure on again after scoring.
“I was really disappointed that we didn’t get rewarded for a number of breakdown penalties and the dominance of our scrum tonight.
“Set piece-wise we were pretty good and attacking with the ball we were good when we were in the right part of the field.
“But we probably need to work on the consistency of our contestable kicks.
“I’d have been content if we’d have scored at the end to get two bonus points because we’d put so much effort into our week of preparations.
“The effort that the organisation does to get us on the road to be here, and the hurdles we have to overcome to actually play rugby on a Monday night, it’s disappointing not to get something out of it.
“We’ll learn a lot from the things we can work on, and we’ll take those learnings into Ulster next week. They’ll be a mirror image of the side that we just played against.”
Young back row James Botham once again won plaudits for his performance, while Jarrod Evans was a livewire in the back-line.
The playmaker created two of his side’s scores, constantly giving Munster defenders something to think about, and maintained a 100 per cent record from the tee.
Mulvihill is delighted with the back row at his disposal and was full of praise for Welsh international outside half, Evans.
The Australian added: “He needs to continue to put back-to-back performances together. He’s built his body up over the off-season but in a couple of weeks time we might give him a rest.
“We’ve found with a couple of the younger guys that if they play more than four or five in a row they tend to break and you don’t get them back.
“We have Will Boyde coming back, hopefully Sam Moore will have got through that and Josh Turnbull will also be available against Ulster.
“We have a few of the cavalry coming back in with us.
“I thought some of the things Jarrod Evans did were outstanding today.
“He had that real attacking intent, his goal kicking was perfect and his kicking out of hand was good. We just didn’t get enough possession in the right end of the pitch for him.”