Tuesday 19 November 2019

Busy week has us ready for Treviso

Munster's Simon Zebo on his way to scoring his side's fourth try
Munster's Simon Zebo on his way to scoring his side's fourth try

Mick O'Driscoll

With back-to-back bonus-point wins in the bag, it's good to be up to second place in the Pro12, but we still cannot rest on our laurels. We have three massive games left and we are intent on finishing the season off in some style.

First off, we were obviously very pleased with the way the Edinburgh game went. We went over there looking for the four points and we picked up five.

We feel that if we win our three remaining games, which is our aim, we will qualify for a home semi-final. It's in our hands. It's very important: everybody will tell you that over the years teams need a home semi-final to make it to the final. That home advantage is massive and that's what we're looking for.

We knew going to Edinburgh we needed a win to stay in the race. We got the win, four tries was a bonus. But we've already parked that, the focus is on Treviso next weekend. We need to repeat the job there.

The final scoreline was impressive, but there was a huge amount of hard work put in by the lads in getting there.

It wasn't as if the tries began to flow from minute one - we had to earn the right to pull clear.

Overall, the set-piece went quite well, we were very happy with that aspect of the game. We gave a couple of penalties at scrum time which was a little disappointing, but once we rectified that the set-piece was very solid.

Our lineout was very good and off the back of that and the scrum we gave our backs scoring opportunities, which they took well.

Something that deserves mention is our fitness late on in games. It's been a feature of our game all season that we do tend to score a lot of points in the final quarter.

That's something that the fitness staff would have to take huge credit for.

Aled Walters and his team are in charge of that. Along with Aidan O'Connell, PJ Wilson and Adam Sheehan, they manage to keep the Cork-based and Limerick-based players all on the same page.

The lads have it mapped out to a tee and it's pretty much identical sessions in the two centres.

But the players work very hard at their fitness themselves, they are often in doing extra sessions on their own and they're getting the just deserves and the merits of it now.

Because we ran in a couple of tries last weekend it has boosted out points difference, but I don't see it coming down to that after the remaining three games are played out.

Ulster still have to play Glasgow, Glasgow still have to play Ospreys and we still have to play Ulster. Chances are each of the top four teams will lose points at some stage, so wins are key from now on in - whoever they come against.

With the European semi-finals taking place, the lads have another weekend without a game. Ideally we'd all love to have been playing tomorrow, but this is really the last chance they will have to rest up before the summer.

This week has been kept pretty much the same as normal - we had a couple of squad days, but yesterday the 'A team played the Ulster Ravens up in Belfast.

A lot of those guys hadn't had much game-time over the last few weeks, so we ended up fielding a really strong team, and we were delighted to get game-time into a few lads, in what was a well worthwhile exercise.


After the game yesterday, we gave the lads today off to rest up, so they won't be back in with us until Monday. But from then on all focus will be 100pc on Treviso.

Treviso are a team that can surprise you. A lot of people seem to think that playing them is one of the easier games, but I would disagree with that. It's usually one of the more physical games you play and I don't expect it to be any different next weekend.

There's going to be a lot of work done between now and next Saturday in the hope of getting things right and giving ourselves the best opportunity to come away with the four points. That's the aim for the rest of the campaign.

Irish Independent

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