Sunday 20 October 2019

David Wallace: 'Inexperienced Reds can claim touring win - and Irish will target the perfect four'

CJ Stander, gesturing to supporters, was a big part of last weekend’s victory. Photo: SPORTSFILE
CJ Stander, gesturing to supporters, was a big part of last weekend’s victory. Photo: SPORTSFILE

David Wallace

A last-minute penalty from halfway is some way to win a game, and armed with that confidence boost you'd hope Munster can kick on again against Cheetahs on Sunday.

I don't think too many Munster supporters and players will say they thought they were in with a chance of winning that game with 20 minutes to go, but the determination they showed to get there was impressive. They got half a sniff of a win and they took it with aplomb. Glasgow are still top of the conference, so that seven-point swing was a huge result for Munster.

I didn't think Munster played particularly poorly at all, but Glasgow really took their chances, and even created scores from nothing on a couple of occasions. It is very hard to stop those kind of tries when they get a line-break because their support runners are excellent - maybe Munster need to be a little softer in their defensive press when they're down a man - but you have to give credit to Glasgow for their ruthlessness.

That play at the end has been well looked at and the work that Peter O'Mahony did to get the turnover, but the efforts of CJ Stander and Billy Holland was a big part of it too. They targeted the latch players and it created the separation with the ball-carrier. All O'Mahony needed was a split second to get on the ball.


Afterwards Dave Rennie said his player was obstructed, and he might be right, but you could also argue that the latch player was obstructing the tackler. Also he was bound to the ball-carrier so Stander was entitled to tackle him. It's a tricky area.

Fair play to Rory Scannell for stepping up in that pressure situation and delivering; it was a massive moment for him and the team - you could see that in their celebrations.

We had speculated as to the identity of the Munster team this time last week and I was very surprised to see so many Ireland internationals involved. It definitely won't be the same on Sunday and the squad that they have announced for South Africa includes several players that have been waiting for their chance.

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It's a brilliant time to bring players into the squad. When you're away from home, doing a lot of travelling with the group, it's a great way to get to know people and focus on rugby for the week. For a young player, going on tour with the senior squad is always exciting and I'm sure they'll thrive. When you look at the standings in Munster's conference it shows how important that win was. Cheetahs beat Cardiff last week and it is only a few weeks since Cardiff beat Munster.

I suspect we will see a very different Cheetahs outfit to the side we saw in that 38-0 week one tussle in Thomond Park. Playing at home they are a totally different animal. This is a real challenge for Munster.

It is interesting to see Sammy Arnold and John Ryan travelling with Munster despite being part of the Ireland squad, but I'd say Joe Schmidt is keen for them to get game-time to have them ready to make an impact later in the month.

It's also no surprise to see Stander and O'Mahony remain behind as some of the Ireland squad get ready to face Italy tomorrow, but they will need to be ready for the big tests around the corner.

Ireland are No 2 in the world, and while they are playing New Zealand, I would love to see four wins from four games. Even the Argentina game will be a real tough one, but there is a lot to be excited about with this Ireland team.

In the year leading into a World Cup it would be great to prove that Ireland can beat New Zealand again, just to show that it wasn't a flash in the pan result in Chicago. We saw in the Rugby Championship that New Zealand are slightly vulnerable, so you'd hope that home advantage will give Ireland a real chance. It is a very, very difficult game and New Zealand have never lost in Dublin. They'll be very keen to lay down a marker against a side that will be one of their biggest challengers in a year's time.

Without Sam Cane to call on, you'd imagine that Ardie Savea will start on the openside, but he will be going head to head with one of Ireland's strongest lines if he does.


Just looking at the Ireland squad, the strength they have in the back-row is amazing. Personally, if everyone is fit I'd go with O'Mahony, Seán O'Brien and Stander as my back-row - all Lions players - but Dan Leavy, Jordi Murphy, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan could also slot in seamlessly too.

Some of the front-line players have stayed at home this weekend, but I think we'll still see an Ireland win over Italy.

One guy I'm really looking forward to seeing play is Ian McKinley, who is on the bench for Italy. As a youngster he was tipped for great things, but after his shocking eye injury he has rekindled his career over in Italy.

It will be such a special occasion for him to play against his native Ireland and against a few of his former Leinster team-mates. He's one guy that you'd love to see do well.

Tomorrow will be all about Ireland, and then we'd love to see a Munster win on Sunday from Bloemfontein. It won't be easy at altitude for the players after all the travelling during the week, but a third win in a row would be the perfect sign-off to this block of games.

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