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Van Graan pleased as Munster keep their cool

Johann van Graan has lauded his Munster side's ability to keep their heads during a tempestuous Guinness PRO14 affair against Leinster at Thomond Park on Saturday which was won 26-17 by the home side.

Leinster arrived in Limerick with a considerably stronger side than was the case when the won there last Christmas but the visitors were undone in large part thanks to their appalling discipline in a fiery first-half.

Leo Cullen's side took to the tunnel 13-3 in arrears having conceded ten penalties and on the back of a 40-minute period in which they lost wing James Lowe to a red card and props Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong to yellows.

Lowe walked for clattering into Andrew Conway in the air and jeopardising the Munster man's safety.

It was entirely accidental but his duty of care to Conway was absent and he paid the full price shortly after the half-hour.

Healy spent ten minutes in the bin for a high tackle on Conor Murray while Furlong walked for a dangerous challenge on Chris Cloete on the edge of a ruck that saw the South African leave the field on a stretcher and in a neck brace.

Furlong caught Cloete high and with a no-arms tackle and really should have seen red for such a clumsy and dangerous interjection which was symbolic of Leinster's inability to stay within the accepted margins in that period.

Munster weren't blameless in a half of rugby that saw a series of flashpoints.

Murray should by rights have received a yellow for another high tackle, this one on Jordan Larmour, but they were more sinned against than sinners.

“I thought it was a very tough game of rugby,” said van Graan after the game on Saturday night.

“Two of Ireland's provinces going at each other for 80 minutes. Firstly, very happy with the win. Also, we want to give credit to the opponents.

I thought they fought to the last play of the game. I thought we kept our cool for the third week in a row.

"I thought our discipline was excellent and at crucial times we used opportunities and very happy with the win.”

Munster had come out the wrong end of some contentious refereeing decisions in recent weeks.

Wayne Barnes was roundly criticised for his failure to properly punish Castres during the sides' European Cup clash two weeks ago and Ulster's Robert Balacoune scored a try against the Reds last week when he should have been shown red for a tackle in the first minute.

Van Graan would have been justified in thinking similar frustrations were in store when Furlong only received ten minutes in the bin for his misdemeanour but he wasn't admitting as much when quizzed on the decisions made by referee Frank Murphy afterwards.

“We stuck to our principles and we really stayed disciplined. I thought the referee was in a very difficult position.

"A sell-out Thomond Park and you want 15 versus 15. I thought one or two of the earlier decisions could have gone maybe higher but all credit to the referee.

“I thought he kept his cool. It was four massive incidents in the first-half and I thought eventually something had to give. It's important, it doesn't matter which colour is the jersey, player safety and player welfare is very important.

“You know, we lost a player tonight out of a game and our opponents lost it for only ten minutes. All we can ask for is consistency like I've been asking for the last few weeks. Really pleased about our discipline.”