Wednesday 20 September 2017

Rob Penney: No excuses this time with place in final up for grabs

Munster's Rob Penney on the importance of this week's Pro12 action for the province.

Munster's Gerhard van den Heever is tackled by Ulster's Rory Scholes in last weekend's Pro12 clash
Munster's Gerhard van den Heever is tackled by Ulster's Rory Scholes in last weekend's Pro12 clash

Rob Penney

We're right into the cut and thrust of the Pro12 this weekend. Win and we get to prepare for the grand finale against one of our provincial rivals – lose and our season is over. It's as simple as that.

Facing into the competition semi-final we are well aware of the tricky task that lies ahead of us tonight. With eight wins from their last eight games, Glasgow are the form team in the league. And having to make the trip to play them on their home patch makes it all the more tricky.

But I'm confident we have the ability and determination to make it through to the final against Ulster or Leinster in a couple of weeks time.

However, if we are to succeed, we need to improve hugely from last weekend's defeat at home to Ulster. It was an unacceptable display.

It is no excuse, but perhaps we were unable to get emotionally attached to the game, seeing as we had already sealed our place in the knock-out stages. However, with so much up for grabs tonight, I know that won't happen again, but I had hoped for a better response from the players in that regard.

But heading to play knock-out rugby in Scotstoun, against one of the best teams in the league, is plenty to get minds focused on the challenges ahead. In the last couple of seasons we have had some fantastic battles with the Warriors; they beat us in Thomond Park most recently, but we defeated them at tonight's venue earlier this season.

In their current form, there is no doubt that Glasgow will be ready for this game. They'll be ready to bring their 'A' game to reach a first league final.

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In response, we have to ensure we can reproduce our best form. If we can do that, I'm happy we have the arsenal to break through and cause them problems.

There is no doubt that they are an excellent side defensively and their speed in the backfield means that any line-breaks are usually gobbled up pretty quickly.

On the offensive side of the game they are a very dangerous outfit too. Under Gregor Townsend's direction they have improved massively over the last few of seasons and top four finishes in the last three campaigns underlines this.

But we've done our work too, we've studied their game and, hopefully, that effort will come to fruition tonight.

After last weekend's loss we have made a number of changes, but we are also without a number of guys through injury. Missing big-match time because of set-backs like that are part and parcel of the game we play, but it is difficult on injured players to be unable to put their hands up for the big occasions. However, they have all played their part this season in getting us to this position.

For sure, it will be a lively encounter tonight. Scotstoun will be heaving with supporters – both home and Munster fans – and when we played there last autumn there was plenty of banter directed towards us. But you'd expect that, and with such rich rewards for the winners, I'm sure the Glasgow faithful will be in full voice. But at every away game in my time here, the Munster supporters have been fantastic. Their presence constantly gives us a massive boost.

I'm sure our die-hard supporters will be in Glasgow again tonight shouting us on and we all hope that we can reward them with our best performance of the season and take the win.

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