Tuesday 22 May 2018

Foley prepares for 'tough' battle

CJ Stander has benefited from the residency rule
CJ Stander has benefited from the residency rule

John Fallon

Munster won't lack incentive heading to Galway for tomorrow's crunch Pro12 clash with Connacht, with a thrilling finale to the competition in prospect.

Aside from obviously trying to nail down Champions Cup and Pro12 semi-final spots, Munster will also be looking to avenge November's 18-12 loss to Connacht as well as a 24-16 reversal in the corresponding game last season.

But despite those results, this is a fixture Munster have dominated over the years.

They have met 27 times and Munster have won 23 of those meetings, with one draw and three losses.

Munster have travelled to Connacht - Dubarry Park in Athlone has also hosted this fixture - on a dozen occasions and emerged victorious in ten of those games, two of which finished on 3-0 scorelines!

Those remarkable games came in Munster's first two visits in the league, and their third trip resulted in their biggest away win over Connacht when they won 44-19 in the Sportsground in 2005-'06.

Since then there has been rarely more than one score between the sides in Galway and coach Anthony Foley knows that it will take a big performance to get a result in their final away match of the regulation season.

"Very few teams beat them up in Galway at the moment," said Foley.

"They are a very good side and are playing really well at the moment."

He said that the pre-Christmas clash at Thomond Park showed the difficulty of the task.

"We had the wind with us in the first half, they held onto the ball. I think we ended up with 31pc possession in the first half. We didn't see the ball.

"Second half, we flipped it around, held onto it and played through a lot of phases. At one stage of the game I thought we had them beaten.

"They have a lot of very good players playing regularly and they're a hard team to beat. They seem to have a massive belief and confidence in the way they play. They are a tough outfit to get across at the moment," he added.

But Foley said they have prepared well and are confident of delivering a big finish to the campaign.

"It is all about making sure that we get into Europe next year, that we get top four."

Irish Independent

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