Sunday 23 July 2017

Rassie's boys are a team on the up

Hard-working Reds look ready to kick on after outplaying Ulster in Belfast

Rory Scannell celebrates his late winning drop-goal against against Ulster
Rory Scannell celebrates his late winning drop-goal against against Ulster

David Wallace

It was fantastic that Munster were able to put two massive performances back to back, and after their win over Ulster they are bang in form ahead of tonight's clash with Ospreys.

The result may not have been comfortable and they were certainly made to work for it at the end, with Rory Scannell's brilliant drop-goal, but despite the final score, Munster were by far the better side in Kingspan Stadium. 

Munster will get huge belief out of another impressive win. If you factor in all of the kicks they missed. . . they had lots of possession too, they really dominated the first half.

Ulster's tries were more opportunist: they just capitalised when the two Munster players bumped into each other, and the other try was just a couple of uncharacteristic missed tackles. 

Wire

If Munster had made those tackles, they would have been in a lot better position to win by more.

At half-time the pundits were talking about Ulster being comfortable having scored the two tries, but the hosts didn't have much of the possession and they got their scores against the run of play, and due to Munster's errors.

Munster had all the ball and were close to the try-line on several occasions.

The Munster work ethic and defensive prowess was really strong, and the midfield stood out, with Jaco Taute and Scannell putting in the big hits all over the park.

The ball-carrying abilities of the Munster players really shone through too: Dave Kilcoyne and Jack O'Donoghue stood out and they took the fight to Ulster in attack.

Billy Holland and Donnacha Ryan were hard-working in the second-row too.

Munster were working themselves into really good positions but the odd handling error or penalty cost them.

But maybe they were better off the way it worked out because Ulster were slightly complacent at half-time, and Munster took advantage of that late in the game.

Munster are going to be driven by the momentum and confidence that stems from back to back victories like that. And the manner of the win - to come back from 14-0 down in Ulster is no mean feat for any team.

The emotional energy zapped from the team after the Champions Cup win over Glasgow Warriors must have been immense. But fair play to the players who got through that game in Thomond Park and put in the hard work again.

Munster are certainly a team on the up.

They are starting to believe in themselves and even despite a few injuries here and there, the squad looks to have a fair depth of talent.

This weekend Ospreys have lots of players away with Wales, but Munster would need reminding of the threat that they pose, having scored so many tries and hit so many points in the league and in Europe this season.

But at the same time this could be the opportune moment to catch Ospreys out.

The Welsh side have not performed well against the Irish teams this season - although they had a comprehensive victory over Connacht earlier in the campaign when the Westerners were struggling, they lost against Leinster and Ulster.

So they have certain vulnerabilities against the provinces, and with such a big contingent of their team, including both out-halves, away with the national set-up, it could be a problem for them.

Scintillating

But 18-year-old Keelan Giles is an example of the serious depth they have in their squad.

He has been in scintillating form and scored an astonishing eight tries in just four games, so with players like that Munster cannot give away anything in the tackle.

It's important that Munster hit the ground running again in Irish Independent Park, and another victory would leave them right in contention in the Pro12 standings.

It will be a fantastic atmosphere in Cork and I'm sure the match will live up to it, but Munster would take another three-point winning slug-fest.

Irish Independent

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