Monday 5 December 2016

Foley: Let's finish pool on a high

John Fallon

Published 22/01/2016 | 02:30

Donnacha Ryan and scrum coach Jerry Flannery deep in conversation as they make their way out for training Photo: Sportsfile
Donnacha Ryan and scrum coach Jerry Flannery deep in conversation as they make their way out for training Photo: Sportsfile

Munster will be hoping to secure victory in Italy on Sunday to avoid winning just two games in Europe for only the second time since the current format started in 1997-'98.

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That season Munster finished with wins at home to Bourgoin and Harlequins, as the Heineken Cup adopted a new format after two seasons of going with single fixtures.

There were pools of three teams in the inaugural competition in 1995-'96 and while there were five teams in the groups for the competition a season later, they did not play each other on a home-and-away basis.

There have been 18 seasons of the current format and that opening campaign of the current system remains the only occasion Munster have lost four pool matches.

Victory on Sunday in Italy will mean that it will be the third time that Munster have completed a campaign with three wins and three losses. It happened last year and also in the 2010-'11 campaign.

There have been three occasions when Munster have won four and lost two and one occasion, back in 1998-'99, when they had four wins, a draw and a loss.

By far the most common outcome for a pool for Munster has been five wins and a loss - that defeat often meaning that qualification ensured drama in the final round of fixtures - and that has happened ten times.

The 2011-'12 campaign remains the only occasion in which Munster have won all pool games.

Munster, of course, have a remote chance of making it to the quarter-finals this season but coach Anthony Foley just wants them to get as many points as they can and finish the pool on a high.

"We want to get as many points as we can, get as high up the table as we can.

"Everything outside of that is outside our control, we can't really affect any other results, you know losing at home to Leicester takes that out of your hands, and not picking up any losing bonus points in all three fixtures makes you realise how important they are, even if you lose a game that you stay within seven points.

"We know we can get to 15, but whether 15 is enough I doubt it. We'd have a fair idea on Sunday morning what's required," he said.

Irish Independent

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