European reaction: O’Mahony relieved but Cullen pleased after dramatic encounters

Bradley West
24 November 2019

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There was drama aplenty for the Guinness PRO14 sides in European action on Saturday.

Six sides competed in the Champions Cup to varying outcomes with nail-biting clashes across the board.

Leinster were brilliant as they secured a hard-fought win in Lyon but in the game of the day Munster and French side Racing 92 could not be separated in a thrilling encounter.

Benetton were also embroiled in an agonising affair, coming out narrowly on the losing end against Northampton Saints while Connacht, Glasgow Warriors and Ospreys all suffered defeat.

O’Mahony claims draw flattered Munster

Thomond Park played host to a pulsating contest as Munster drew 21-21 with Racing 92.

The hosts were behind for large parts of the match and looked to be heading to only their fifth home defeat ever in the competition before Andrew Conway’s 75th-minute converted try levelled the scores.

It could have been more for Munster, however, as JJ Hanrahan pulled a last-minute drop goal wide of the posts but flanker Peter O’Mahony believes his side can feel relieved to have come out with a draw.

“Around 50 minutes we shouldn’t have been next to or near a draw and then with ten minutes to go, we could have won it,” O’Mahony said.

“I don’t think we played well enough to win the game, to be totally honest with you. We played some very good rugby but some mental lapses defensively cost you against teams like that.

“I thought they played really well and we played some really good rugby as well but overall, it probably flattered us a bit getting the draw with the way they played and the overall way we played. That would be my gut feeling.”

Cullen pleased to win despite ‘rust’

In Pool 1 Leinster sit top after they clinically beat Lyon 13-6 thanks to ten points in the opening half which included Max Deegan dotting down.

The visitors came under increased pressure in the second 40 minutes but held firm, something head coach Leo Cullen was impressed with even if he still sees much room for improvement.

“There was a lot of rain in the lead-up to the game and conditions were always going to be difficult,” Cullen said.

“It’s another step for the younger players and the back-row in particular.

“It’s great for us to come away and win. We turned the ball over cheaply on a few occasions. I thought we looked reasonably comfortable, but we lost our way a little bit mid-way through the half.

“We still look a little rusty it’s fair to say, but conditions out there didn’t help.”

Friend proud despite defeat

In France, meanwhile, Connacht fell to a battling 32-17 defeat to Toulouse.

For large parts of the game the Irish side were the measure of their opponents, going into half-time only one point behind thanks to tries from Tom Farrell and Caolin Blade.

Andy Friend’s side waned in the second period as the hosts powered to a bonus point thanks to four tries but Connacht’s coach nevertheless took much pride from his side’s showing.

“I was really proud of our performance,” said Friend. “I just thought the boys never stopped trying. When they got their opportunities they took them in the first-half.

“I thought a lot of things were stacked against us but they stuck at our systems and believed in themselves.

“If you look at the 32-17 scoreline it looks like a one-sided game but it certainly wasn’t. We can take a lot of pride out of this game.”

Rennie demands more from Glasgow

Glasgow Warriors fell to defeat at Sandy Park as they were beaten 34-18 by Exeter Chiefs, despite leading 13-10 at half-time.

It was a completely different story in the second half though, as Exeter dominated to put the Warriors to the sword, and head coach Dave Rennie was disappointed with the showing of his team.

“They [Exeter] won the kicking battle,” said Rennie. “I thought they were good but we’ve got to be better.

“We put pressure on ourselves because we didn’t kick well enough, we overplayed a handful of times where we’ve gone three, four or five phases and we haven’t got what we wanted and it’s actually OK to put it over the sideline and start again.”

Summerhill gutted after Cardiff defeat

Elsewhere, in the Challenge Cup, Cardiff Blues were edged out 14-11 by Leicester Tigers as Tom Hardwick’s late penalty gave the English side the win.

Aled Summerhill’s try had given the hosts the lead but Jordan Coghlan crossed for the Tigers and a dramatic finish saw Hardwick seal victory with the final kick of the game.

Summerhill reflected the disappointment amongst the Cardiff squad when speaking afterwards.

“We’re just gutted, really,” Summerhill said.

“We expected to win but we weren’t good enough. We’ve been working hard over the last weeks, had some good wins and wanted to get another one out there in front of our own crowd.

“We had a lot of ball and the coaches said after the game about how much possession we had but weren’t able to finish it off.

“Against a good team like Leicester, you know they’ll come back to hurt you, which they did right at the end of the game.”

Cardiff City Stadium will play host to the 2020 Guinness PRO14 Final on June 20 as one of the most exciting days in the club rugby calendar comes to Wales!

General sale tickets are available from and prices start at just £13 for concessions and £26 for adults (subject to booking fees), that’s a 15% early bird discount. Family ticket (2 adults / 2 children) prices begin at £64 and fans are encouraged to buy early to get the best value tickets.

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