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Munster head coach Anthony Foley says he has no regrets about replacing in-form out-half Johnny Holland with more than 20 minutes remaining in the narrow defeat to Leinster at the Aviva Stadium yesterday.
The Guinness PRO12 clash was tantalisingly poised at 13 points apiece at the time before Jonathan Sexton slotted his third penalty of the day to hand Leinster a narrow 16-13 victory and put a significant dent in Munster's hopes of qualifying for the play-offs.
Holland already scored a try, conversion and two penalties of his own before he was withdrawn in favour of seasoned campaigner Ian Keatley for the final 23 minutes.
The substitute missed a decent opportunity to put Munster back in front within minutes of entering the fray before Sexton notched the decisive score, but Foley insists that he has no regrets about the decision to bring in a player who has served the province well on previous occasions.
“It was the right thing for us to do to bring on a more experienced player to see us through to the end of the game,” he said afterwards.
“I thought Johnny (Holland), in the biggest game he ever played, had a lot of very high-end moments.
“Like everything else, when you’re out on the pitch under that pressure, mistakes are happening so it was important that we didn’t burn the candle at both ends with him.
“Ian got us to within three points of winning the game from the ten position and unfortunately we didn’t get the opportunity to see it through.”
“It’s one that got away. We played a lot of good rugby at times and to be camped on their line for the last three or four minutes of the game and to get nothing out of it is a small bit disappointing.
“I think we went to the corner, we were held up an inch or two short, we get a scrum off the back of that, we throw a couple of good plays at them and then we get held up again short of the line.
“One of our players takes a quick tap, we knock it on from the next ruck and the game is over.
“It does frustrate you a small bit. Obviously having a penalty there you could look at a number of things that could have happened, but unfortunately the decisions were made, you can’t take them back and you have to get on with it.”
Munster did secure a losing bonus point, but that was little consolation for the head coach.
“We came up here to win the game, we thought we were good enough to win, I thought we did it well, I thought we had some stand-out performances and to come away with just one point is three left behind," he added.
“We’ve been trying to get into the top four, we’ve been a result or two away from it for a while.
“We needed a better result against Cardiff, we didn’t get a result here so we’ll be looking above us and below us and scrapping as hard as we can to get as many points as we can from the next three games.”
By: Kieran O'Daly