Saturday 24 February 2018

David Wallace: We'll be a handful on the run-in

Depth of talent means Rassie has the tools to challenge

John Ryan takes on as much as he can handle Picture: SEB DALY/SPORTSFILE
John Ryan takes on as much as he can handle Picture: SEB DALY/SPORTSFILE

David Wallace

Munster might have only squeezed over the line, with a few points to spare, against Glasgow last weekend, but it was another brilliant defensive display. And if things can click going forward, a potential victory over Ulster would provide the perfect precursor to their huge Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens.

It was a really satisfying win against Glasgow, while still leaving Munster with plenty to work on. It looked like it was going to be a landslide at the start of the game, with the way Munster hit the ground running.

They got on the front foot in every facet of the game and the omens looked good. Jean Deysel was outstanding. What an impact - I just thought this guy is a great addition. But losing Tyler Bleyendaal was a massive blow.

Munster lost a bit of their direction when he went off. Although Rory Scannell did really well, it's always difficult when your first-choice out-half drops out so early on in the game. Munster coped very well regardless.

They made a lot of errors too and that put themselves under a lot of undue pressure. At times Munster were doing really well but they would lose their momentum with knock-ons or errors.

It was still an impressive win all the same. Let's not forget, Glasgow were chasing a top-four slot and the play-offs. They were coming over with massive intent and to get a fourth victory over them, and a sixth over Scottish opposition this season, is a massive achievement.

Munster will have to produce something similar against Ulster this weekend because they only drew last weekend against Cardiff, and that certainly didn't do their top-four aspirations any good - Ulster will be really hungry, and they will be coming to try and get a win, in what's always a really hotly-contested inter-pro.

It's not a bad thing to have these big games before the semi-final. Glasgow and Ulster will be two highly competitive games. You just hope the big names get back fit, and there are no more injuries after this.

unlucky On reflection, Munster could have put a big score on Glasgow. They had a couple of potential tries that didn't go their way for one reason or another - Ronan O'Mahony and Conor Oliver were very unlucky with their respective efforts.

The main thing is, Munster are creating a lot of chances. Going forward it's about converting those chances because the reigning European and Premiership champions Saracens won't be letting Munster off the hook easily.

And not only that, it is going to be very important against Ulster this weekend too. Munster were by far the better team in Cork, they had the ascendency and all of the opportunities. I certainly don't think Glasgow should have been on their coat-tails coming towards the end of the game, and Munster probably should not have had to defend like that.

They should have put it to bed earlier than they did, but they are 95 per cent of the way there, and will find those missing pieces of the puzzle in the coming weeks.

It would be interesting to see a bit more of Deysel against Ulster, and hopefully guys like James Cronin and Bleyendaal will bounce back in time. If Tyler is out it will give Rory Scannell another chance at No 10, and that's a position you need experience in if he is called upon in the big games later in the season.

I looked through the Munster team that was on the pitch in the first half last weekend. There is real quality spread throughout that side and then you see the replacements' bench too.

Munster are in a really good place at the moment in terms of injuries clearing up. They have real quality, and although their opponents are desperate to win, and a dangerous animal, Munster should be too strong for them.

Down through the years you always have a big inter-pro game before going into Europe. And it's really important because the week leading into those games is always a big step up in intensity. It's never far off the European games and it's perfect timing.

There is always danger there with injuries but the players will be 100 per cent committed and that works in their favour. Hopefully the result goes in their favour too.

Irish Independent

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