Wednesday 24 January 2018

Reds have history on their side

Paul O’Connell goes through his paces during Munster training ahead of tomorrow’s game against Ospreys
Paul O’Connell goes through his paces during Munster training ahead of tomorrow’s game against Ospreys

John Fallon

Munster have the distinction of being involved in both the tightest semi-final and the most decisive play-off match since the current system was adopted by the Pro12.

This is the sixth year that semi-finals involving the top four have been introduced and so far all ten games have been won by the home side.

In most cases the margin of victory has been clear-cut with only four of the ten matches being won by ten points or less.

Munster have played in four semi-finals but won only once, an 18-11 win over Ospreys four years ago on their way to a 19-9 win over Leinster in the final to claim their third crown.

The previous year Leinster beat Munster 16-6, while in 2012 Ospreys recorded the biggest win in a semi-final when they hammered Munster 45-10 at the Liberty Stadium in what was Tony McGahan's final game in charge.

Munster missed out on the semi-finals in the first year of Rob Penney's reign but they were back in the last four last season, only to be pipped 16-15 by Glasgow at Scotstoun - the only one-point semi-final win.

Ospreys have been involved in three semi-finals, defeating Glasgow 20-5 in 2010 before losing to Munster the following year. Then they enjoyed their 35-point win over the Reds three years ago.

Leinster are the only side to have played five semi-finals - winning all five of them - but Glasgow will equal that record this evening when they entertain Ulster.

The Scots have lost three of their four semi-finals, finally ending their losing run 12 months ago when they pipped Anthony Foley's men.

Ulster, who play in their fourth semi-final this evening, have won just one of their three play-off games so far.

Ospreys, as Foley pointed out this week, have the distinction of being the only side to win the crown away from their own ground. Technically, Leinster were the 'away' team when they defeated Ulster 24-18 at the RDS two seasons ago at a time when the redevelopment of Ravenhill was not finished.

Only six of the 12 teams have made the semi-finals with Leinster, Munster and Glasgow leading the way with five appearances, Ospreys and Ulster on four each, and Scarlets with one semi-final date.

Irish Independent

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