LISTEN: Laura Guest praises ‘effort and energy’ of players following Interpro title.
In her first season in charge of the Munster Women’s side, Laura Guest guided them to an interprovincial title last weekend following back to back wins against Ulster and Leinster.
Munster were behind the eight ball going into Saturday’s clash, Leinster were four points ahead of Munster and had a points difference of 22 whilst their Interprovincial counterparts had one of 19 which set up the tie as a title decider.
After their opening weekend defeat to Connacht at the Sportsground, which was made even more frustrating at the fact Munster dominated proceedings for large parts of the tie, Guest knew wins against Leinster and Ulster, and nothing less, would have be the main port of call if she wanted to regain the title.
Speaking to Sporting Limerick, Guest acknowledged the importance of the battling spirit shown in the opening round in the Sportsground and how that losing bonus point put them in position to win the title.
“I think all games are won on small margins and lost on small margins in lots of cases. like you said that point there was crucial to us staying in the hunt today. We needed six points and we got six points. You’re trying not to focus too much on the bare minimum.
“The girls played well and they showed great patience. A very tough Leinster side too that just never gave up like you’d expect coming in as reigning champions they’re always going to be very difficult to beat. Thankfully we were on the right side of it.”
Following some excellent defensive work towards the end of the the first half, Munster took a 6-0 lead into the break. Guest says that keeping the scoreboard ticking over while shutting Leinster down was a crucial and gave then renewed confidence to deal with the expected Leinster onslaught it he second half.
“It was kind of constantly try building the scoreboard.” Guest added ” At 6-0 we certainly would take it at half time. At times you’d feel like it could have been more. We were lacking a bit of clinical-ness in their 22 but at the same point you never get any easy scores out of Leinster.
“Certainly we were hoping to push on and us not conceding just before half time through Leinster dominance and pressure there and right on our line that was a crucial moment in the game.”
“It was important that the girls took a score in the second half first. Leinster were always dangerous there was no questioning that but I think the girls had enough resolve and enough patience to ensure that we weren’t in any danger.”
Having regrouped for the second half Munster came out firing and former Ireland hooker Gillian Bourke powered over off the back of a maul for a crucial try.
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With the conversion missed, Leinster knew a converted try would be enough to make up the points difference and when scrum half Ailsa Hughes crossed for their opening score, the Interpro title was very much back in the balance.
The conversion was missed but any type of score for Leinster would have sealed the title. With no margin for error, Guest says her Munster team grew in confidence with every tackle and defensive effort.
“You could see there was a different energy and a different buzz in the girls today. The belief was there that we were going to win the game and win the Interpro was there to see from he very second I walked into them this morning.
“Even on the pitch there was a constant energy every time there was a good tackle or every time there was a turnover. You could just see that the longer the game went on that you were feeling a bit more confident but certainly it was very nerve-racking near the very end.
In what has been a hugely successful debut season for Guest as head coach, she paid tribute to her panel of players after Saturday’s triumph.
“I am glad that the girls were able to perform today and to be able to do what we needed to do, to beat Leinster in Thomond Park first of all and secondly to win the Iterpro.
“I am very grateful to the group of players and the energy and effort that they put in, without them I am nothing you know.”