Sunday 19 November 2017

Foley warns of 'pressure' games

Anthony Foley looks on during Munster training in Limerick. Photo: Sportsfile
Anthony Foley looks on during Munster training in Limerick. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Munster have won seven from seven in their league meetings with Zebre but the manner in which they had to work hard for their 16-12 win over them in Italy in January will ensure nothing is taken for granted at Thomond Park this evening.

Munster coach Anthony Foley said this week that new Zebre coach Gianluca Guidi had turned them into a formidable and unpredictable outfit.

Munster's primary aim at this stage is to nail down a Champions Cup qualification spot and then bid for a play-off place, but Foley said that teams throughout the table had their own individual battles which they were focusing on.

"There is pressure on everyone. With the qualification system, Zebre are coming here looking to stay ahead of Treviso. The Scottish teams are trying to get one over on each other, the Welsh teams are all trying to get one over on each other, the Irish teams are trying to jostle for position, everyone in the micro groups have their own little agendas."

Zebre are second from bottom, three points above Treviso with a game in hand against champions Glasgow Warriors.

They have won four games this season, twice as many as Treviso, but that's largely due to twice beating their Italian rivals.

The 16-12 scoreline in Parma in January is the second closest result in seven matches between Munster and Zebre, with the 27-25 win in Italy in the 2012-13 season the tightest.

Munster have won all three home games against Zebre comprehensively, scoring 29-3 and 36-8 wins before last season triumphing 31-5.

Zebre come into the match on the back of a five-match losing run and their only win over an Irish province in the three-and-a-half years they have been in the Pro12 remains a home win over Ulster in 2014.

This is their fourth trip to Ireland this season and they have been well beaten in all three up to now, failing to score in two of those games. Connacht beat them 34-15 and then in February Leinster hammered them 52-0, while earlier this month Ulster turned them over 32-0 in Belfast.

Zebre have not picked up a point outside of Italy this season and their only away points came in the 18-8 win in Treviso in January.

Irish Independent

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