Sunday 21 October 2018

Munster primed for Scarlets revenge

Munster head coach Johann van Graan. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Munster head coach Johann van Graan. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Professionals regularly speak of taking one game at a time but, a week out from crucial European quarter-finals, such niceties are hurled out the window.

Even though the champions are in the second tier of Europe, Wayne Pivac makes no bones about his priorities.

"Certainly, we have an eye on next week in terms of our preparation," says the Kiwi. They do not need a win here and the prohibitive odds on the home team maintaining their side of the bargain confirms as much.

Munster's international contingent may be resting up, whether in Dubai or Dingle, but the Welsh are far more weakened by their national calls of duty.

Johann van Graan also has an eye on next week, too, even though the Grand Slam glow still warms the nation.

"We've got some pretty big dreams for this club and we're in a home quarter-final against Toulon so I'm sure they will be back refreshed next Monday and will focus on Munster," says the head coach.

"Scarlets are a good quality team. I went through their footage against Munster the previous two times they have played and they beat Munster quite convincingly.

"And probably the form player of not only the PRO14 but possibly in Europe, Tadhg Beirne, at this stage is unbelievable at the breakdown. He is by a long way the best guy on the ground and some of his broken field work is incredible at this stage.

"They score a lot of their tries from broken field and move the ball into space and that will be a big challenge. They have a good set-piece and they are sitting pretty well with a home quarter-final as well in Europe so they will quality opposition."

Beirne will swap sides next season, of course, but for now he aims to maintain his side's recent run of form against Munster.

Scarlets won on their most recent visit to Thomond Park in February 2017, something they had not done at the venue since September 2003.

On that occasion, Munster seem primed for a potentially comfortable victory at half-time yet ended the game without even a losing bonus point, an indication of what was to come.

Munster's last home defeat was the jarring interprovincial reverse to Leinster over the festive period but Scarlets haven't won on the road since that time either.

Andrew Conway and Simon Zebo remain injured, hopefully with a view to training for full fitness next week.

Theirs is a mixed team but they will be charged with the responsibility of ensuring that their side are brimful of good tidings heading into a pivotal week.

Munster need a positive result heading into Europe; despite their recent dip in away form, they should have enough to do so.

Verdict: Munster

Munster - JJ Hanrahan; C Nash, S Arnold, R Scannell, A Wootton; I Keatley, J Hart; D Kilcoyne, R Marshall, J Ryan, J Kleyn, B Holland (capt), J O'Donoghue, T O'Donnell, R Copeland. Reps: N Scannell, J Cronin, S Archer, G Grobler, D O'Callaghan, J Stafford, S Fitzgerald, D Goggin.

Scarlets - T Williams; T Varndell, S Williams (capt), P Asquith, S Evans; R Patchell, A Davies; D Evans, R Elias, S Lee, T Beirne, D Bulbring, A Shingler, J Davies, W Boyde.

Reps: E Phillips, P Price, W Kruger, L Rawlins, J Macleod, J Evans, D Jones, S Hughes.

Ref - M Mitrea (FIR)

  • Munster v Scarlets, Live, Sky Sports Arena, 5.35

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