Sunday 25 September 2016

Top four spot in reach for Reds

John Fallon

Published 18/03/2016 | 02:30

Rory Scannell: “And yes, it does feel like every game is a cup final. It has felt that way for the past few weeks since Zebre, Ospreys, all those games were important Photo: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile
Rory Scannell: “And yes, it does feel like every game is a cup final. It has felt that way for the past few weeks since Zebre, Ospreys, all those games were important Photo: Diarmuid Greene / Sportsfile

Munster have an opportunity to get back into the top four in the Pro12 table for the first time since November when they take on Cardiff Blues this evening.

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And with centre Rory Scannell reiterating Anthony Foley's assertion that every game from here to the end of the season is a cup final, Munster know they have to make this game in hand count.

History bodes well for them in their quest to close the gap at the top, first of all strengthening their claim on a Champions Cup spot and then having a go to secure one of the four semi-final berths.

Cardiff have only managed to beat Munster once in their last 11 meetings. That was a 17-6 win in Cork in January 2013.

Munster have not lost in the Arms Park since 2009 and have won six and lost six in their dozen clashes in Cardiff.

At home Munster have won 11 and lost three, the most recent win coming in October at Irish Independent Park when they triumphed 35-27.

There has not been a draw so far in the 26 league meetings between the sides.

Munster are going for their fifth win in a row in Cardiff, having won 28-24 there last season, and 31-10 the campaign before that.

Cardiff, sitting in ninth place on 34 points, 13 behind Munster, will be keen to get the points to help secure their Champions Cup spot; their 14-13 loss to Leinster last month is their only defeat at the Arms Park since November.

But centre Scannell said Munster need to secure points in their quest to finish the campaign on a high.

"We really need to use this game in hand and try and get a win over there and stay in touch with the teams above us, because we have to play three of the four of them yet," he said.

"We are just trying to close the gap at the top of the table and stay in touch with the play-offs.

"And yes, it does feel like every game is a cup final. It has felt that way for the past few weeks since Zebre, Ospreys, all those games were important.

"We got our losing bonus point against both Glasgow and Ospreys, they could easily have been five-point games instead of a one point game. We are looking to pick up as many points as we can, just get to that top four."

Irish Independent

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