Monday 23 October 2017

Penney backs Reds to raid Perpignan fortress

John Fallon in Perpignan

A big Munster contingent is expected to start arriving in Perpignan today for tomorrow's Heineken Cup showdown at a packed Stade Aime Giral.

Hundreds of Munster supporters will make the trip to the Catalan city, where Munster have a relatively good record in one of the most intimidating grounds in France.

The stadium, within walking distance of the city centre, is named after young out-half Aime Giral, who guided them to their first French championship in 1914 and who was killed in the First World War just over a year later.

USAP (Union Sportive Arlequins Perpignanais) supporters like to consider their 14,200-capacity ground a fortress, and having been turned over 30-23 by Clermont Auvergne in the Top 14 the weekend before last, they are keen to avoid a second successive home defeat.

Indeed, Perpignan have lost their last four matches in all competitions and this week developed a siege mentality following the Thomond Park loss, with all media activity banned until this morning's press conference at the stadium.

A spokesperson for the club said that the coaches did not want players talking to the media this week as they were keen for them to be fully concentrated on tomorrow's clash with the Reds.

Munster coach Rob Penney said his troops needed to guard against an ambush and added that he is well aware Perpignan will be fired up for this one.

But Penney feels that if they can improve in one or two areas from Sunday's victory at Thomond Park, then his men will perform well.

"If we get some of our set-piece operating a bit more efficiently, we're going to have ball in vital parts of the field. The challenge is to get that step up, because we're going to need it.

"There is certainly the ability within the group to go up a step. We've had a hard look at some of our defensive frailties and if we get that more efficient, we'll be better," he said.

Conditions for the game should be perfect. The weather at present in Perpignan is cold but dry and sunny with no wind.

Irish Independent

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