Friday 28 October 2016

Foley's boys to prevail, but be wary of Scots

Pro12 crown well deserved after an impressive season for the Red Army

David Wallace

Published 29/05/2015 | 02:30

Paul O’Connell stretches during training at Thomond Park ahead of the Pro12 final against Glasgow
Paul O’Connell stretches during training at Thomond Park ahead of the Pro12 final against Glasgow

It wasn't really cup rugby last weekend was it? It was unstructured and both teams made a lot of errors, neither side controlled the game, but it was full of excitement and great to watch.

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Munster scored a try before and just after half-time and you thought they would kick on from there. But Ospreys are a team that can score from anywhere, and Rhys Webb has been scoring tries for fun in the latter part of the season.

So they got back into it thanks to Munster gifting them a couple of tries and at the end I assumed that try was going to be given before it was called back for the TMO to make his decision.

We all saw a bit of a fumble and we weren't sure whether it was a knock-on from Munster or Ospreys.

Nigel Owens let play continue as he wasn't sure if it was knocked on originally and had a look when play stopped. He kept a good poker face so everyone thought it was over, but thankfully it fell Munster's way.


There was some key performers for Munster, notably the back-row, who were immense. All three were outstanding: Paddy Butler was excellent and my man of the match; CJ picked up the award; and Peter O'Mahony was also brilliant before he went off.

They are in for another big test this weekend, though.

Munster's scramble defence in the last few weeks has been excellent but they don't want to let a team like Glasgow in behind them - the Scots' finishing abilities are second to none.

In a final, every point will count and you'd hope that Munster will get a bit more luck form the tee this week. Finn Russell has been excellent in that department for Glasgow and Munster will need to be extra disciplined in their own half.

The positives surrounded the usual suspects again, and you had Denis Hurley showing his class once more with an excellent try.

He seems to be relishing playing in the centre; I always felt he was great at full-back. He could run onto ball and get terrific speed over long distances, but he's really upping his game playing at No 12.

He's been key for Munster there; he and Andrew Smith are two big lads that are working very well together.

But it's down to two now. I said last week I wasn't sure what way it was going to go because the two teams can play very loose, but the game still surprised me because I thought there would be more structure.

Niko Matawalu and Richie Vernon in such fine form, Glasgow are a very dangerous team. They have great speed with DTH van der Merwe and Tommy Seymour as well.

But hopefully Munster will have the majority of the support at Ravenhill.

Some neutral viewers wouldn't mind a Glasgow win because they've been the form team for so long in the competition this season and even into last year, and the season before that.

But I hope the best team wins and that that team will be Munster.

Munster have been very good in the knockout stages and winning these cup games is their forte, so hopefully that will help them a little bit.

But Glasgow have been the team to beat for a while and probably deserve a trophy at some stage, but they'll have to deal with Munster first.

If an experienced player like Paul O'Connell is set to retire and not be involved with Munster next year, then winning this game and getting their hands on some silverware will be invaluable.

The younger guys need that taste of success as it has been four years since Munster won some silverware.


For coaches and players alike it will be massive because it is a young coaching ticket too and that would give them such a massive boost and they could kick on from there.

It would drive standards around the place as well and hopefully lead to bigger and better things next season for Europe, where they will be hoping to do much better in the Champions Cup.

I think they will sneak it tomorrow and here's hoping they can put in another top performance and continue Munster's proud tradition.

Irish Independent

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