Saturday 21 April 2018

Munster bid for historic high five

Munster out-half Ian Keatley in training at UL ahead of tonight's clash with the Scarlets
Munster out-half Ian Keatley in training at UL ahead of tonight's clash with the Scarlets

John Fallon

Munster will this evening bid to equal their best ever start to the league when they travel to Scarlets looking for their fifth win of this season's Pro12.

This is the fourth time that Munster have won all four opening games, but only once have they won five.

That came at the outset of the 2008-09 campaign when Edinburgh were defeated 20-15 away, Dragons 50-6 at home, Cardiff 28-20 at home, Leinster 18-0 away and Glasgow 25-27 at home.

The winning start came to an end in Ravenhill when Ulster triumphed 22-6.

Munster's first winning run of four games came in the 2002-03 season in what now seems like a different era as they recorded home victories over Ebbw Vale and Swansea, and away wins against Llanelli and Edinburgh. That run, too, was brought to a halt in Ravenhill.

The most recent winning start of four games came in 2011-12, with home wins over Dragons and Scarlets and away against Glasgow and Cardiff before a loss in Edinburgh.

That was the second year in a row that Munster started with four wins, having beaten Aironi and Ospreys at home in 2010-11 and come away from Edinburgh and Glasgow with victories before losing 13-9 away to Leinster.

Scarlets and Munster drew 25-25 at Parc y Scarlets last season, the second time in four years that they ended deadlocked at the venue.

Scarlets won the two games at the venue in between the draws and Munster's last victory there was in the 2010-11 season when they won 13-6.

Overall, Munster have won five times in Llanelli, lost six and drawn twice. At home Munster have won 11 of the 13 clashes, losing just twice.

This evening's game will be the 27th league meeting between them, with Munster winning 16, losing eight and the two draws.

Scarlets have made their best ever start, with wins away to champions Glasgow and Ulster, and at home to Ulster and Leinster.

Captain CJ Stander said Munster are fully aware of how big the task will be to extend their winning run.

"It's a top of table clash, tough place to play, I think last year they might have lost just one game there. They have started very well, they have good signings and have been playing good rugby so far," he said.

Irish Independent

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