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Munster on top in Conference

Connacht 24 Munster 31


Joey Carbery of Munster

Joey Carbery of Munster

Joey Carbery of Munster

In many ways, the story of the PRO14 League Christmas period has been about the slump of Glasgow Warriors.

The local losses to Edinburgh away (23-7) and at home (16-8) in Scotstoun, overshadowed by the away defeat to Benetton (20-17) on Saturday, have undermined the previous runaway leaders in Conference A.

In contrast, Munster have made their move by sweeping Leinster and Connacht to one side, overtaking the Scottish club at the head of the table.

Coach Johann van Graan took the humble line, sharing the stage with all four Irish provinces, who can all take something positive from the last two weeks.

"We've all had the same challenges with a lot of physicality and we all have to manage our squad.

"We won last weekend against the top team in Europe and came here, won with a bonus point against possibly one of the form teams in Europe.

"They've been playing excellent rugby. We'll take that."

It will put Munster in the right frame of mind to take the show on the road to Gloucester in Pool Two of the Champions Cup on Friday night.

The tightest quartet in the competition leaves all four, separated by just four points, in with a shout.

Connacht coach Andy Friend refused to use the absence of Bundee Aki, Jarrad Butler, Denis Buckley and Kieran Marmion as an excuse for coming up short in Galway.

"We're more than any individual," he voiced.

"We're a footy team who understand what we're trying to do.

"Although we had the loss, there was a lot of positives we can take out of that.

"We'll take that and keep building."

However, the truth is Friend will rue the opportunity to jump ahead of Munster and close right up on Glasgow.

In the Challenge Cup, the Westerners will have to be at their best to clip the wings of high-flying Sale Sharks.

Director of Rugby Steve Diamond's soldiers buckled Saracens in The Premiership at the weekend behind the brilliance of Springbok scrum-half Faf de Klerk.