Saturday 21 January 2017

We need to be sharp for tough trip to Scotland

Mick O'Driscoll

Published 06/11/2015 | 02:30

Munster’s Dave Foley (R) and Mark Chisholm contest a lineout with Ulster’s Franco van der Merwe in last week’s Guinness PRO12 clash at Thomond Park
Munster’s Dave Foley (R) and Mark Chisholm contest a lineout with Ulster’s Franco van der Merwe in last week’s Guinness PRO12 clash at Thomond Park

We were happy with the level of performance from the lads last weekend. If we can tighten up a few little areas, it could make a big difference to us as the season progresses and as we go into the Champions Cup.

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But it's all about the tough tie that awaits us at BT Murrayfield tomorrow evening, and Edinburgh are always a formidable opponent, especially at home in the Pro12.

Last weekend we protected our own home record with an important victory over Ulster in the first inter-pro of the season. Even though it was a little close for comfort, you couldn't fault the lads for effort. It's always good to win games, especially the local derbies.

We are putting up some good scorelines but unfortunately we have leaked a few too many as well. That is a bit unlike us at Munster, but it's great to score a few tries and get the win at the end of the day.

Having said that we realise there is plenty of work still to be done, and we definitely need to rectify a few little things if we want to be contenders again both in the Pro12 and in the Champions Cup.

Our scrum has been very solid all year, and once again it provided us with that vital platform we needed to play our game. Our lineout was a little off for the first few games of the season but that has improved of late, and against Ulster it gave us better opportunities in attack.

Going into this weekend Edinburgh are a team that thrive at the set-piece, so we know the challenge we'll face there.

As well as that they have a couple of internationals to come back into the front-row too which will make them even stronger than they were against Connacht last weekend.

Edinburgh might have lost that game in the Sportsground but their set-piece stood tall. And they have a very strong squad, and they have plenty of good quality players there too.

It is going to be a fierce battle, but it is definitely one that we relish here at Munster. We have tipped along nicely all season long, and now we will look to build on the momentum we have gained so far, and then hopefully use this as a stepping stone to even bigger things.

Lift

Another win would make it six wins from seven outings in the Pro12 this season, and that would give us a huge lift ahead of the beginning of our European campaign next week.

Edinburgh have already beaten two Irish provinces, Leinster and Ulster, in Scotland, so there is no doubting the talent they have in their ranks, and they have the results to back it up on the field.

With the tough 16-week block of games teams are mixing and matching their squads each week and that will be key for this season - finding the balance between playing and resting different players is a crucial aspect that will be the difference between winning and losing.

Edinburgh have put out their strongest 15 at home every time this season and it has definitely reaped rewards for them.

They lost two times away from home but they know they cannot afford to lose again here against us tomorrow.

So it helps to focus the mind for us even more, we know that it's going to be a huge challenge for us, and we certainly don't take anything for granted against a top Pro12 side like Edinburgh.

We all saw the pinnacle of rugby last weekend when New Zealand beat Australia to lift the Rugby World Cup at Twickenham.

I personally thought that the Wallabies would do it before the game, but the All Blacks just upped it through the gears. They were awesome.

That is what all of the truly great teams can do - when they spot the danger they rise to the challenge, and with Munster we know we can too.

We want to get back to a stage where we win the game, no matter what the circumstances are.

It's now a week since one of our great players, Felix Jones, announced his retirement from the game and it came as such a shock to us at the time.

Right now, it's still really difficult to comprehend and we've just looked to support him through this tough time.

He was a great player for the club and it puts everything in perspective when you see that happen.

Irish Independent

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