Johnno: "It was a tough old evening"

After watching Munster bring the curtain down on the Ospreys season with an 18-11 win at Thomond Park on Saturday evening, Scott Johnson was in a reflective mood when he spoke to the media after the final whistle.

The Director of Coaching acknowledged that Munster had been the better team on the night, but was quick to draw on the positives, which included the effort and commitment, the defensive work, and the presence of a number of younger players on the field.

Addressing the press post-match he said:

“It’s disappointing. We showed plenty of heart and plenty of effort, but we didn’t execute our game as well as we would have wanted. It was a tough old evening as we expected.

“As I said to the players, we were outskilled today but we weren’t outwilled. I think we showed plenty of character, we just couldn’t get the ball early on. We lost some lineouts, we had the chance for some early points that we didn’t take, and we just couldn’t get any continuity.

“The battle was always going to be tough between two quality sides. They had plenty of opportunities to score and we were really brave to keep them close, but we didn’t complete what we needed to do.

“We couldn’t get any set-piece ball, that was the issue for us. We’ve had the dominant scrum all year and all of a sudden it’s a lottery. We couldn’t get any consistency from our set-piece, and the lineout played a part in that. If you don’t get that platform to play off then it’s very difficult.

“We went into the game with the mindset that we’ve got the dominant scrum, unfortunately, the interpretations today were different to the mindset

“When they got the ball they held on to it for long periods and made life very difficult for us, put us under pressure. Our composure in defence was wonderful, to go in at 8-3 I thought, 'we’re in with a shout of this'. The ten minutes also cost us, but I think at the end of the day there wasn’t too much between those two sides.

"I think we showed commitment and a pride in the shirt. Things didn’t go our way but no-one threw the towel in. As a coach a lot of it is about the human element, it’s easy to see the skill but it’s wonderful to be around great character and great heart, and today was about that for me.

“It was a pretty gutsy display, we haven’t played well for the last five or six weeks, but there was plenty of willing there tonight and I’m proud of that. You can’t question the will in the team and the effort was great. We’ve disappointed with the last few weeks of the season, that’s been common knowledge, we didn’t get the balance right and form went out of the window.

“It’s very positive that we had a few young players out there who showed up really well, people like Ashley Beck, Justin Tipuric and Ryan Bevington will be an integral part of our squad next season. Becky was excellent today and will prove to be a very able replacement for James as he’s shown throughout the season. I thought Richard Fussell was excellent at 15 despite the chargedown, he did some really brave things. Tom Isaacs coming on also showed up very well.

“We have a great ability to unearth kids, and next season, being World Cup time, the pressure will be on us, just as it will for teams like Munster, so it’s important to get these kids through. The experience of coming somewhere like Thomond Park today will stand them in good stead.

“The structure of the game is changing and we have to adapt to that. We’ve made some changes that we think will benefit us in the longer term, and will benefit Wales and Welsh rugby. The game is always evolving and we’ve made our intentions pretty clear, what we are trying to do. When you look around you, look at Munster for example, we aren’t on our own in this. We are trying to compete on all fronts, provide players for Wales also, and we’ve just got to balance that off.

“I’m a glass half full man, so if I was to sum up the season, then it’s been frustrating, there’s no doubt about that, but the highlight for me has been the young ones that we’ve brought through. I’m really happy with that side of things but I’m disappointed that we didn’t get the timing right, we didn’t finish where we needed to finish. It’s a frustrating one, but that’s the game we play.”