Sunday 21 January 2018

Denis Hurley Player Diary: We need a victory in Treviso to get our play-off charge back on track

Munster’s Tomas O’Leary clears his lines during the Pro12 clash against Glasgow. Photo: Ross Parker/Sportsfile
Munster’s Tomas O’Leary clears his lines during the Pro12 clash against Glasgow. Photo: Ross Parker/Sportsfile

Denis Hurley

With the calf injury I haven't played for Munster since January and after some recuperation I am raring to go if I'm called upon. It's a crucial clash against Treviso and we certainly won't be taking them for granted.

They have hit form recently with wins over Cardiff and Dragons and we must front up if we want to end our losing streak. Last weekend's defeat to Glasgow was hard to take, and we got so close to getting the win.

But it's how to get across the finish-line that we need to figure out again. We can't be giving teams a head-start, and those are little mistakes in games that lead to teams clocking easy points against us.

To ship two tries in the first ten minutes of the game is a big deficit to try and eat back into. Lads had to dig hard against a tough Glasgow team, and eventually found decent field position.

Through Dave Kilcoyne getting over for two tries, to catch up within the next 15 minutes after being 14-0 down, we had got ourselves right back into the game. And towards the end we were in a good position to win it.


But then again we played 20 minutes of the second half with only 14 men on the field. That makes it harder, and when you are away from home those momentum swings give advantage to the home side and makes it that bit tougher.

Coming away from Glasgow with a losing bonus point is not the worst thing in the world but it makes the Pro12 play-off race even more difficult. There are three Irish teams in the top four and we are not one of them.

There is a bit of work to do but we get to play the top two teams, Connacht and Leinster, away from home. At least we have a chance to affect the course of their run-ins too and those games could be vital. That could make a difference in the end.

There are eight games left, we have got to be optimistic that we are good enough and capable of making up that deficit to get ourselves into the play-off positions.

But we aren't kidding ourselves. Going over to Glasgow, we knew it was going to be difficult. They were just a couple of positions behind us in the standings and they needed to make up ground.

So it was important that we at least came away with one point. Every point really counts. At the moment, we are 12 points behind leaders Connacht. If you lose a game you must come away with something or else those differences become insurmountable.

You can take heart out of it. It isn't an easy place to go and the lads really had to dig deep after shipping a deficit at the start to get themselves back into the game.

They probably could have won the game, but at least we have come away with something from such a tough scenario.

And everyone is keen to respond this weekend. We need to win. Treviso is not a simple place to go to. We have had them this year in the Champions Cup, but when you are missing a few internationals the trips away take on a whole new meaning.

They are quite a physical team. It should make for another tough game. It is one of those games where we really have to be mindful of not giving away easy possession and of course trying to keep 15 guys on the field for the whole game will help. I want to get back involved, and for the group overall we just need to get a win.

Treviso play a good brand of rugby. Over the years they have upset a lot of teams at home and are just after two good wins. They are a very difficult side to play against when they are playing well, just for the fact that they control possession and don't give it away easy.

Their physicality makes them hard to deal with at the breakdown. From the scrum, lineout and maul-time, they will get stuck in and put pressure on our pack. They have something to fight for too. They want to make sure they are ahead of Zebre at the end of the season.

Treviso will target us, missing a few internationals, and see us at our weakest coming off the back of two losses. I can imagine they will do whatever they can to put us out of the game early.

We have just got to stick in there, and make sure we can hold onto possession. We need to try and get into some rhythm and get into attacking positions. Hopefully we can get a chance to stretch their defence but we have to focus on our performance and what we can control.

But the Pro12 isn't the only show in town this weekend, and I hope the Munster lads, and Ireland in general, do well over in Twickenham.

England are one of the better teams in the Six Nations. They will be looking at Ireland, knowing they need to keep the pressure on France or Wales, depending on who wins tonight, and they will fancy their chances.

As regards Ireland, there is room for improvement.

Ireland had a tough physical battle against Wales and drew that one. But the loss to France was a difficult one to take.

Ireland were the better team, and they just let France back into it. They will be kicking themselves that they didn't manage to put France away early and they will need to channel that frustration.

It will be a close battle tomorrow in Twickenham, and it'll be a question of whether Ireland can get a couple of tries on the board and hold out against England's brute force.

Irish Independent

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